Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, then by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by talking about a classic toy, the Magic 8-Ball.
In the fifty eighth episode of The Simpsons, Bart’s Friend Falls in Love (Season 03, Episode 23), it’s ‘Show and Tell’ time at school and Bart decides to take Homer’s jar of coins in a classic The Simpsons scene reminiscent of Indiana Jones.
When Bart gets on the bus, Milhouse shows him his item for ‘Show and Tell’, a Magic 8-Ball.
Bart: “Cool! An oversized novelty billiard ball!”
Milhouse: “Yeah, you shake it up and it tells the future!”
Milhouse: “Uh huh.”
Bart: “Will I pass my English test?” [Magic 8-Ball reads ‘Outlook not so good’] “Wow, it does work!”
But the Magic 8-Ball causes Bart and Milhouse to question their friendship.
Bart: “Will Milhouse and I be friends till we’re toothless old men with hair in our ears? [Magic 8-Ball reads ‘Don’t count on it’] Will Milhouse and I be friends when we’re high school dropouts living off Uncle Sucker? [Magic 8-Ball reads ‘It looks doubtful’] Will Milhouse and I be friends at the end of the day? [Magic 8-Ball reads ‘No’] What could come between two bestest buddies like us?”
Well the answer to what could come between two bestest buddies is answered in the next scene when we meet transfer student Samantha Stankey. Milhouse and Samantha develop feelings for each other, and Bart starts feeling like a third wheel.
The Magic 8-Ball seems to be coming true, until Bart sabotages the relationship by telling Samantha’s dad about the two lovebirds. Samantha’s father splits the couple up by transferring Samantha to an all girl’s private school run by French Canadian nuns.
But have you ever wondered what a Magic 8-Ball is?
Magic 8-Ball is a popular children’s toy dating back to the 1940’s. It comes in the shape of a plastic sphere, made to look like an eight-ball. It is used for fortune-telling or seeking advice.
Albert C. Carter was the son of a popular Cincinnati medium/clairvoyant Mary. From an early age, he was a fan of all things mystical. This led him to develop an early version of the Magic 8-Ball he called the Syco-Seer. It was a crystal ball made of a liquid-filled tube, divided in the center. On each end of the tube was a clear window that allowed a view of the worded dice Albert had placed in each half. By turning the tube upright, one of the dice would slowly raise through the viscous liquid, revealing a response to the yes/no question the user asked.
Through a local Cincinnati toy store owner Max Levison who loved the invention, Albert teamed up with Max’s brother-in-law Abe Buchmann, a savvy businessman. Together Albert and Abe formed a novelty company called Alabe Crafts, Inc (an amalgamation of both their names) in 1946. While he had applied for a patent of his Syco-Seer on September 23rd, 1944, Albert did not live to see the patent granted in 1948.
Following Albert’s death, Abe tried to simplify the design and reduce production cost by having just a single viewer. He also teamed up with popular Chicago-based billiards company Brunswick Billiards in 1950, when they were on the lookout for a fun item to use as a potential giveaway. Abe changed the design replacing the crystal ball with the iconic black 8 ball we know today.
In 1971, Abe sold Alabe Crafts, Inc and the Magic 8-Ball to Ideal Toys. The magic 8-Ball is now owned by Mattel, who claim to sell over a million of the novelty balls every year. The toy is so popular, in 2011 Time Magazine named it as one of the “All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys”.
Each of the die’s 20 faces has one of 10 affirmative, 5 negative, or 5 non-committal statements printed in raised letters.
Now that we’ve learned more about Magic 8-Balls, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
Did you remember the episode? Did you remember the Magic 8-Ball? Did you remember the romance between Milhouse and Samantha? Did you ever use a Magic 8-Ball? What would you take to ‘Show and Tell’ at school? What was your favourite toy growing up? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.