The world's biggest latex company is Halcyon Agro Corp. Ltd., but the most famous one doesn't even exist.
How do we know? Well, when we tried calling Vandelay Industries, we were told, "Nah, you're way, way, way off."
So, we read off the phone number we were given.
"Well, yeah that's the right number," the man said, "but this is an apartment."
In each issue leading up to our special 50th Anniversary issue on Aug. 9, we'll present a new list of 5—businesses, discoveries and innovations, moments and organizations that have changed or are changing the industry.
Our latest "5 for 50" focuses on rubber in pop culture and there's no better place to start than "The Boyfriend," the season finale of Seinfeld's third season.
Early in the two-part episode—best known for the phrase "I'm Keith Hernandez"—George Costanza tells his unemployment agent, Mrs. Sokol, that he just interviewed for a sales position at Vandelay Industries on New York City's Upper West Side.
"I got very close there. Very close."
"And what type of company is that?"
"Latex. Latex manufacturing."
He wanted to sell latex and latex-related products. They just wouldn't give him a chance!
Vandelay's Kel Varnsen was ready to vouch for him, but, alas, Mrs. Sokol got Kramer instead. When Jerry Seinfeld walked into his apartment and spotted a dejected George on the floor with his pants down, he put his hands on his hips and said (all together now), "And you want to be my latex salesman."
2. High Hopes
In 1959—a year before Frank Sinatra told American voters that "Jack is on the right track"—Old Blue Eyes was asking child actor Eddie Hodges, "Just what makes that little old ant think he'll move a big rubber plant? Anyone knows an ant can't move a rubber tree plant."
But he's got Hiiiiiigh Hopes.
The song—from the movie "A Hole in the Head"—won an Oscar for Best Original Song at the 32nd Academy Awards. Sinatra then recorded a different version in 1960, turning the tune into a campaign ad for John F. Kennedy.
Unfortunately, the JFK version dropped any references to polymeric material, prompting us to lament, "Oops there goes another rubber tree plant … reference."
3. Rubber Duckie
Did you know that Ernie's "Rubber Duckie" song has been around for more than 50 years, making its Sesame Street debut on Feb. 25, 1970? And did you know it reached No. 16 on the Billboard charts that year, earning a Grammy nomination for "Best Children's Song"? And did you know it'll be in your head for the rest of the day?
The song was originally sung by Jim Henson, but it has since been covered by the Irish Rovers, Little Richard, Jane Krakowski and every parent in history.
The actual Rubber Duck has been around since the 1800s—these days, most of them are made of vinyl—and was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2013. That same year, the Double-A Akron Aeros changed their name to the Akron RubberDucks, honoring the city's nickname as "The Rubber Capital of the World."
4. The Simpsons
The landmark Uniroyal Tire near Detroit made a quick appearance in an episode of "The Simpsons" last year, but since we already wrote about that for our "Wacky World of Rubber" series, we're going to go a bit off script and highlight what has to be the only time benzene got any pop culture love.
The chemical, a key ingredient in tire and rubber manufacturing, is also used in ink production and has a sweet, aromatic, gasoline-type odor, according to none other than the CDC.
That's why, when one of Lisa Simpson's classmates opens a box of yearbooks in the Season Seven finale "The Summer of 4 Ft. 2," she smiles and says, "Oh, you can smell the benzene!"
The CDC warns that breathing in too much benzene can cause a host of side effects, including confusion, which may explain why another classmate then told her, "When kids see those layouts and fonts, you're going to be the most popular girl in school."
(She was not.)
5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Look, we know Christmas is still a few months off, but if you're a CEO toying with the idea of suspending the Christmas bonuses, warn your employees.
Because giving them a one-year subscription to the "Jelly of the Month Club" may sound like the gift that keeps on giving the whole year, it's really just a cheap, lousy way to save a buck.
We'll give the SWAT team commander the final word:
"That's pretty low, mister. If I had a rubber hose, I would beat you …"