Rubber Bands are the
latest fad among the elementary school set is – would you believe – the
rubber band. Now the rubber bands they are going gaga over are not the ordinary
brownish ones that probably come to mind when you think rubber band -- or even
the pretty red and green ones that you sometime see. These are colorful rubber
bands, but what makes them special is their shape. They are shaped like
chickens, ducks, dinosaurs, elephants or just about any other animal or object
you can think of.
I was first introduced to them when my grandson came in with a
few of them. It seems the kids at school were going nuts over farm and zoo
shaped rubber bands. When I asked “why”, the answer was “why not?” They
are cute, cheap, and best of all, “when you stretch them, they return to the
original animal shape.” Of course, that makes perfect sense, at least to a
It seems that the kids take them to school, trade them with
friends for harder to find rubber bands, and wear them on their wrist or arm. My
grandson wanted more of these miraculous rubber bands. We couldn’t find them
locally and resorted to ordering them on the internet. He spent half of his
birthday money to order several batches and couldn’t wait until the big brown
truck arrived with them.
Now, I never thought I would be party to such foolishness as
collecting animal shaped rubber bands. But then I remembered Beanie
Babies. Remember how we chased all over town to find the one Beanie Baby
that was in high demand? Where are Beanie Babies now? Forgotten in
the bottom of a dresser drawer? That’s where mine are, I think.
Anyhow, the lowly rubber band has come into its own. Remember
when every newspaper was secured with a rubber band before it was delivered to
your home? Now they come in plastic bags. Or how strawberries came in plastic
crates covered by cellophane secured with a rubber band? Now they come in
plastic boxes. You may still find your celery or broccoli secured with a
rubber band, but the rubber band has become what is called a “mature
product”, meaning the demand for them is not increasing.
Almost everyone has a few rubber bands around a door knob or
stashed in a kitchen drawer with the scissors and paperclips. Any office worker
can find a few rubber bands in the desk drawer, so handy for holding together a
pile of file folders or a stack of letters. In fact, rubber bands are so
useful for letters that the Post Office is said to be the largest user of this
handy item. It was the Post Office that came up with the idea for coloring
them red due to postal workers dropping them and forgetting to pick them up.
The history of rubber bands is almost as old as the history of
rubber itself, which goes back to the time of Columbus who discovered it being
used by Mayan Indians. After the Europeans found out about rubber, it
wasn’t too long before the sticky substance was vulcanized into a useful
product when Goodyear accidentally mixed rubber with sulfur by leaving it on a
hot stove and forgetting it. Fortunate for him that rubber was not
explosive when mixed with sulfur or we would be driving cars with wooden wheels
Anyhow, all is well that ends well. Along with the dozens
of other rubber products, someone invented rubber bands by covering a hollow
tube with rubber and then cutting the rubber into strips. Now we have
thick and thin, long and short, plain and colorful rubber bands for any use you
can think of – even for kids to collect, trade, and wear on their arms.
New shapes are coming out all the while, cars, flowers, hearts, anything you can
think of. The more unusual the shape, the more in demand it is.
It seems to me that I recall rubber bands being used for
slingshots to shoot paper wads when I was a kid. I’m certainly not going to
mention that to my grandson. Obviously, times have changed and I don’t
want him to come up with any new (old) ideas to get in trouble with.
But rubber bands? Who could imagine that rubber bands would be
the next big fad?