These “heavenly scented” towelettes are just one example of recently cataloged objects found in the Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection of Theater, Dance, and Music in the Harvard Theatre Collection. In addition to hot pepper candy and a rubber pencil other examples include
amazing Mystic Smoke from the fingertips!
The inventor of the Squirting Nickel was Soren Sorensen Adams who started out by inventing sneezing powder or Cachoo! After his early success Adams formed the S.S. Adams Company and went on to invent many novelty and joke tricks including the Dribble glass, the Stink Bomb, and the Snake Nut Can. Perhaps his most memorable invention was the Joy Buzzer, which enabled him to earn enough money to set up a factory in Neptune, New Jersey. Adams continued to create successful novelties, magic tricks, and puzzles until his death at age 84, and he claimed to have invented over 600 items with patents for 40 of them.
It is interesting how effectively these objects tap into your inner child without apology, and make no claims other than to provide a good laugh. It is ironic that a business that was only concerned with producing a quick, cheap, and profitable product ended up achieving a somewhat iconic status in pop culture history. A history which continues since novelty and joke tricks have still not lost their appeal to the modern consumer. If you are interested in learning more about the history of novelty and joke items, including photographs for many of the objects, check out the publication Cheap Laffs : the art of the novelty item by Mark Newgarden and Picture Inc.
For other magic and trick joke objects in our collection please visit our online finding aid Realia for magic and jokes, 1957-2001: Guide. (MS Thr 772 )
[Collection cataloged by Bonnie B. Salt and post contributed by Alison Harris]