Chances are that almost everyone reading this has, at one point in their life, raised a boring as all hell tank full of sea monkeys or some shit that died precisely 6 days after you stopped giving a crap about them. Well wouldn’t it have been awesome instead of something you couldn’t see, you got a tank full of awesome rainbow colored fish straight from the deepest depths of darkest Africa instead? Well believe it or not, someone actually pitched that exact idea and it never got off the ground.
To explain, Wham-O, the company behind some of the most insanely popular toys in history, including the Hula Hoop, the Frisbee and the mega god-damn bouncy ball came up with the idea for an “Instant Aquarium” that was so balls out insane we’re actually pissed it never got made.
One of the companies founders, Arthur Melin got the idea when he was on a research trip in Africa in the 60’s. You see, both Melin and his partner, Richard Knerr linked their success to them going being willing to talk to actual, real children and getting first hand experience with how they played with their toys. The pair were famous for travelling the globe in search of new toy ideas, which culminated in Melin travelling all the way to fucking Africa to find the next big toy idea.
Fortunately Melin’s trip just so happened coincide with Africa’s dry season during which he observed first hand the lifecycle of the African killifish, a small breed of exotic, freshwater fish. To adapt to the harsh, unforgiving African climate, before the start of the dry season the killifish will lay its eggs in the mud, when the mud dries the eggs will survive and will be largely impervious to predation. The eggs can survive in the dried mud for months, if not years and to revive them all you need to do is drop a clump of dried dirt containing the eggs into a tank of water. Which is basically the same way Sea Monkeys work, only instead of being boring specks of floating shit you needed a magnifying glass to see, African killifish look like goldfish attending a rave.
After seeing the fish in action, Melin immediately came up with a rather lucrative idea, his company could sell a small cube of the mud containing the eggs in a fish tank, charge a few dollars for it and sell approximately all of them the second they announced to the public they’d discovered a way of ripping the souls of GLOWING FISH directly from the ether using ordinary tap water.
The idea was an immediate and runaway success, when the pair pitched the idea at the New York Toy Fair, they sold every Instant Aquarium they had and walked away with millions in pre-orders.
However, there was a snag, the fish they intended on using, an African breed of killifish, couldn’t breed fast enough for them to make the idea economically viable. So, rather than do it anyway and thus allow us all to have a tank full of tiny rainbow fish, they shelved the idea and promptly never pursued it ever again. Which is really annoying because seriously, if someone pitched this idea today we’d buy like five of these things and destroy every light bulb in our house just so we could say we read by the light of our tank of fucking lightning fish!
Thank God for Ebay, eh?