By Mike Johnson
I’d seen the ad in my 1960’s comic books hundreds of times.
“Enter the wonderful world of amazing live Sea-Monkeys!
Own a bowlful of happiness – instant pets!
The happy Sea-Monkey family lounged just like people, but with webbed feet and tails.
The ad promised that by just adding water, your Sea-Monkeys would hatch instantly.
“So eager to please they can even be trained!”
I already had a good dog as a pet so I never made the purchase.
Sea-Monkeys were “invented,” enhanced and marketed by Harold von Braunhut starting in 1960. Here is the fascinating story of their history: Sea-Monkeys.com History
Fast forward to 1967. Dad took us out west on vacation. One of our stops was the Great Salt Lake in Utah. It was said that the lake's salt created so much buoyancy that even
non-swimmers would float.
Of course we tried it out and that was mostly true.
Then we were told about brine shrimp. The lake was teeming with them.
We dipped a jar into the water and sure enough, we’d captured half a dozen of the tiny things.
We were tent-camping our way across the west so I’d brought some comic books.
That night, deep in my sleeping bag, reading by flashlight, I made the connection.
Sea-Monkeys were brine shrimp!
They survived the drive home and lived the rest of the summer. We never tried to train them. In those days, the average life span was about a month.
Over the years, Harold made a few improvements in the lab and the surviving company claims Sea-Monkeys can now live up to two years. Colonies have been known to survive up to five years in captivity.
We’ll see. I just ordered the full kit of bowl, water-purifier, eggs, food and manual. It’s no longer $1.00, but it’s still cheap, just $15 on e-Bay.
I’m afraid this may become my gateway drug into other 1960’s comic book merchandise.
It turns out that Harold also invented those X-ray Spexs.
I Beat Childhood
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