WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THESE FIRST?!
You may not have the brain power of Einstein or Edison, but that doesn’t mean your vision isn’t valuable. Fortunes have been made thanks to some of the simplest and seemingly stupid seedlings of ideas. Big Mouth Billy Bass may not hold a candle to the incandescent light bulb, but hell if those tacky singing fish didn’t make its inventor a creek full of cash.
To help you unleash whatever inner Jump To Conclusions Mat may be dormant in your subconscious, here are 18 absurdly simple products that have made huge money.
6. Big Mouth Billy Bass
Estimated Profits: undisclosed, but reasonably insane
One of several early-aughts novelty sensations, this obnoxious crooning fish was a runaway hit, occupying prominent real estate in every Walgreens, K-Mart, and Spencer’s Gifts you might have passed through. Gemmy Industries—the company who made them—won’t release hard figures, but considering they’ve reportedly sold “millions and millions and millions” at around $20 a pop, it’s hard to imagine they didn’t reel in a fat profit.
7. The Slinky
Estimated Profits: $3 billion in total sales
This age-old toy was developed by an engineer in 1943 who initially set out to develop a set of springs to stabilize ship cargo, then noticed how mesmerizing it was to watch them “step” after one accidentally fell off his workstation. He took out a $500 loan to manufacture an initial batch of 400, and after sitting on the shelves at a Philly department store for a single day, they were a hit. Between 1945 and 2005, over 300 million had been sold, including a cool 100 million in its first two years on the market. In those short 24 months, they brought in a revenue of $1 billion in today’s dollars.
13. Crayola Crayons
Estimated Profits: undisclosed
While the modern-day Crayola crayon was first developed in 1903 by a pair of cousins who were in the industrial coloring business, these days they’re produced under the watchful eye of parent company Hallmark, who acquired the company in 1984. Hard numbers are hard to come by, but if Crayola’s producing the 3 billion crayons, 600 million colored pencils, 465 million markers, 110 million sticks of chalk, 9 million Silly Putty eggs, and 1.5 million jars of paint they claim to annually, it’s safe to assume they’re lighting cigars with multiple hundred dollar bills.