When my daughter asked me if I knew what silly bands were, I thought she meant the latest fad in rock music or bands of marauding lunatics in the streets. It turns out she meant “Silly Bandz”, the latest craze to have swept the country’s schools. Silly me!
Silly Bandz are made of silicone rubber formed into shapes including animals, objects, numbers, and letters. They come in hundreds of varieties and colours. On a wrist, they function like a regular bracelet, and when taken off they revert to their original shape. They are often worn several at a time and are traded like other collectibles in the same way that Pokemon cards used to be.
The original shaped rubber bands were created in 2002 by a Japanese design team who wanted to introduce a more environmentally sustainable rubber band as an office product. Robert Croak, owner of an Ohio-based company came across the bands on a business trip and decided to market them as a kids’ fashion accessory.
By August 2010, Silly Bandz was selling its product in 8,000 stores across the USA and Canada. At one time, seven spots on Amazon’s list of best-selling toys and games were held by the bracelets. No one knows how big the market is (or was) for bands that sell for up to $4.95 for a 24-pack. But Silly Bandz sales, alone, hit the $200 million a year mark at their peak.
Like all fads, this one is fast fading and will soon be replaced by some other gimmick. I just hope that I’m the one to think of it!