Over the years, the rubber ducky has become synonymous with bath time. No matter if you're watching a cartoon or reading a children's book, if there's a photo of a tub, there's a pretty good chance the yellow toy will be seen floating somewhere nearby. But where did this little guy come from? And why is it considered a bath toy, when in reality, it's rubber and could be used in any scenario? Let's...dive...in.
A history that's short, but distinguished
The first rubber ducks were created back in the late 1800s, shortly after Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber -- you know, the same that's used for car tires today. They weren't made to be bath toys, though. In fact, the original rubber duck didn't even float! It was made to be a chew toy for pets (which also isn't so different from today), but definitely wouldn't have done much good in the tub.
It wasn't until 1933 that a latex company created a line of Disney character bath toys. Donald and Donna Duck quickly became top sellers, and the idea for the rubber ducky was born. In 1949, Russian sculptor Peter Ganine designed and patented the rubber duck that we still know and love today, and went on to sell more than 50 million ducks.
More than it was quacked up to be
Now, depending on what year you were born, your earliest memory of the rubber ducky is probably from watching it on-screen in "Sesame Street." By 1969, Ernie was singing sweet, sweet nothings to his own toy duck during bath time, making any kid who didn't already have a rubber duck want one ASAP.
Let's be honest, it's been 25 years since I last watched "Sesame Street," and I still sing "Rubber Ducky, you're the one..." in my head each time I see one of the toys laying around.
More recently, the popularity of rubber duckies still ebbs and flows (see what I did there?). For example, in 2001, a British tabloid reported that Queen Elizabeth II had her own rubber ducky in her bathroom that -- of course -- wore a tiny crown. And sales of rubber ducks surged 80 percent shortly after.
In 2014, the world's largest rubber duck debuted, measuring in at more than six stories tall, 74 feet long, 64 feet wide and weighing an insane 15 tons.
TL;DR: No if, ands or quacks about it, this duck is here to stay.