November 25, 2008
Betty James, Inventor of the Slinky Brand Name, Leaves Us a Product Name That Will Never Be Forgotten
Betty James, who named the Slinky toy, is dead at 90 and toyland is all the poorer for it.
Betty named the "walking" spring her engineer husband brought home "slinky" after looking up the word in the dictionary and finding that it meant "stealthy, sleek and sinuous." She then went on to run the company after her husband left her, as she continued to sell more than 300 million Slinkys by broadening the line to include Slinky Jr., Plastic Slinky, Slinky Dog, Slinky Pets, Crazy Slinky Eyes, and Neon Slinky before she died.
The name itself is instantly recognizable, as is the satisfying "grzzzzzink" sound the toy makes while going downstairs or balancing between your palms. But the Slinky song is what really sticks in the head:
Ev'ryone knows it's Slinky. It's Slinky, it's Slinky. For fun, it's a wonderful toy. It's fun for a girl and a boy.
The company used it for years because they were too broke to update it, and it is now one of the tunes everyone recalls from childhood.
The name resonates because Slinky is just a part of our life and the company never deviated from the original Slinky brand name. Even in the age of video and computer games, retro toys are still popular with boys and girls (and parents).
In fact, the Slinky is in the Toy Hall of Fame, alongside its newest low tech inductee, a stick. Go Slinky!
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