Current Issue

Few can resist those rubber duckies

Comments Email

Every now and then I just have to write about rubber duckies.

Give the people what they want—a sure-fire approach for politicians to get re-elected, movie moguls to make millions or an editor to get someone to read his column.

See, it worked.

I know you, assuming you're mostly a normal human being, are fascinated by rubber duckies. That's why there are rubber ducky races, rubber ducky giveaways, rubber duckies of all shapes and sizes, although yellow and small generally are the norm.

At the ACS Rubber Division expo a few years back, the booth personnel from this publication gave away rubber duckies as part of a marketing thing for our 40th anniversary. Without a doubt, it was the most traffic we ever had at our booth. People insisted they get their rubber ducky: "Gotta get that rubber ducky. Now get out of my way—I was ahead of you."

Even the larger display duckies ran, or more likely, floated off before the show ended. Rubber ducky fever, for sure.

The fact this issue of Rubber & Plastics News is being distributed at the Rubber Division's Really Big Show this week in Cleveland makes a conversation about rubber duckies at the exhibition appropriate. But that's not all! Rubber duckies are much in the news today. Actually, they are in the news every day, as I well know, since we monitor the news on the Internet.

The most recent rubber ducky news occurred in Pennsylvania. On Sept. 27, a 40-foot rubber ducky floated at no-wake speed up the Allegheny River through downtown Pittsburgh. It was a classic rubber ducky, bright yellow, black eyes, a smiling orange beak. This was latest stop of a series of floating sculptures by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, who since 2007 has been creating the aquatic ambassadors. They've appeared on waterways from Hong Kong to Sydney, from Sao Paulo to Saint-Nazaire, France, on a mission to spread joy throughout the world.

And of course they do. Everyone loves a rubber ducky—and these definitely are rubber, not like the mass-marketed plastic ones that pose as rubber.

Everyone but the feds.

Yes, the Department of Justice also is in the news concerning rubber duckies. It seems in Wisconsin, scofflaws throughout the state have been running rubber ducky races as fundraisers.

In Madison, for example, an apparent crime syndicate called the "Madison Parks Division" held such an event to generate funds to allow low-income families and children to swim at a local pool or be on a swim team. The scam was, you bet $2 on a duck, and winners won a party at the collegiate league's Madison Mallard game.

The DOJ warned the park and other organizations—because this nefarious activity is rampant in Wisconsin—are sponsoring illegal gambling. Legal being the monopoly known as the state lottery.

A bill now is circulating in the state legislature calling for the legalization of rubber ducky racing.

Now there's a bill both the Democrat and Republican legislators of Wisconsin can agree on. Finally.

Noga is the editor of Rubber & Plastics News.