The new sound of novelty.
A new sound: that’s all a novelty item needed to become a raging sensation in the late 1920s. Companies offered a wide variety of devices that emitted strange sounds when squeezed—some a child’s scream, others a cat’s screech. Experimenting with sheets of rubber, employees of the JEM Rubber Company in Toronto hit upon a different sound. The noise that emanated from their little rubber pillow was a tad more, now shall we put it, indelicate. American novelty purveyor Johnson Smith & Company heard the call and added JEM’s doohicky to its giant catalogue. The economy model went for 25 cents, a deluxe edition for $1.25. A perfect gift for the discerning prankster who has everything. Sales erupted with a loud toot and haven’t ceased. The sound of the Whoopee Cushion can still be heard loud and clear wherever unsuspecting bottoms and chairs get together.