Once upon a time, just add water.

Posted 1 February 2021 by Audrey Legris in Once upon a time

Once upon a time, just add water. I can’t even begin to explain how much sea monkeys creep me out. But they also fascinate me. So, here we are. Buckle up.

Sea monkeys were invented, well, marketed by Harold von Braunhut around the 1960s. One day, he was walking around a pet store when a bucket of brine shrimp, used as fish food, caught his eye. You see, brine shrimp have a special skill: they undergo cryptobiosis, meaning that their eggs can remain dormant for a very, very, very long time. Ka-Ching! It was settled, Braunhut was going to sell these weird microscopic crustaceans to kids. Um, sure, buddy…I guess. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Then came the ads. From a marketing standpoint, these are pure genius. Printed in comic books, they combined Braunhut’s meticulous copywriting skills to Jo Orlando’s illustrations, which can only be defined as iconic at this point. For the small sum of $1.25, you could “enter the wonderful world of amazing live sea monkeys” and “own a bowlful of happiness”. Why were they called sea monkeys? That remains a mystery.

Children were promised instant pets, and, technically speaking, that’s what they got. But boy did the ads oversell the experience. After all, let’s not forget that Harold von Braunhut is also the inventor of “X-Ray Specs” and of “The Invisible Goldfish”. Damn you evil marketing genius!

Anyways. Sea monkeys are weird and I don’t want them anywhere near my house. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.