Just thinking about this subject makes me laugh, and it's really hard to type and laugh as I think of one of the greatest, and best known gag items in the world. You guessed it. I'm talking about the WHOOPEE CUSHION!
I like to imagine a wealthy family sitting down for dinner in their large luxurious mansion. Several prominent political members are present and getting ready to enjoy a exquisite dinner in the lavish dining room. The table is set with the finest foods and the most expensive silverware. The guests are wearing their best dresses and suits...and someone even has their monocle on. As the guest prepare to sit for their feast, the young son of the host family sneaks a small rubber cushion filled with air on the seat of Mr. Pennywinks. When the unsuspecting target sits, a loud BRRRRRRPPPTTT is emitted throughout the room. With eyes wide, mouths agape, and heads looking all around. The young son sits in his chair trying to hold in his laugh...but it's too much: HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Scenes such as this one ran though all of our heads as we looked over those Whoopee Cushion advertisements in the comic books. A majority of us envisioned pranking our little siblings or even enacting flatulent revenge on our parents or teachers. Even as I'm writing this I'm trying to conceive a plan to prank my wife...but I know better now...the dog house is not a good place to sleep.
It's hard to believe that the the concept of the Whoopee cushion goes back to around 218 CE when the young Roman Emperor Elgabalus used animal bladders filled with air to prank unsuspecting guests. One could only imagine how this was recieved in Roman society. But it wouldn't be until the 1930's when a Canadian business called JEM Rubber Company would invent the modern day version in Toronto. The company originally called their design the "poo-poo cushion” and the “boop-boop a doop", and finally settling on the name "whoopee."
When the S.S. Adams Company declined to sell the item in 1930, the Johnson Smith Company jumped on the opportunity...and with great success. Upon seeing how popular the item sold, S.S. Adams brokered a deal and began selling the gag as the "Razzberry Cushion." The rest is, as they say, history.