10 Dumbest Inventions That Made Millions

Lots of people dream of writing the next Harry Potter-type bestseller, or inventing the 21st century version of the wheel – but million dollar ideas don’t always come from the places you would expect Today we’re looking at the stupidest, most ridiculous inventions that have brought their inventors riches beyond belief… from singing fish to snuggies

This is: 10 Dumbest Inventions That Made Millions NUMBER 10: PET ROCK There’s a fine line between stupidity and genius, and few ideas play with that line more than the king of simple concepts: the pet rock The idea first came to American entrepreneur Gary Dahl back in 1975 Dahl was sat in a bar listening to his friends complain about feeding and cleaning up after their pets, when he joked that he had the perfect pet – a beautiful little rock And thus a multi-million dollar product was born

Dahl created Pet Rock kits containing a hay bed, a pet carrier, a joke-heavy owner’s manual and, of course, the main attraction – a rock The owner’s manual described the rock as a ‘pedigree’ and warned people that it might take their new pet a few days to ‘acclimate themselves to their new surroundings’ It hit the shops just in time for Christmas 1975 and was featured on ‘The Tonight Show’ as well as various newspaper articles Over the festive period, about 15 million rocks were sold

‘Pet rock’ mania only actually lasted about half a year, but that was long enough to make Dahl a millionaire The Pet Rock kits cost him less than a dollar to make but he was able to sell them for almost 4 times that Within six months, he’d earned a crazy $15 million NUMBER 9: I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER Love it or hate it, ‘I can has cheezburger?’ is one of the oldest and most well-known memes on the Internet The concept of adding stupid captions to animal photos like these doesn’t seem like the spark for a lucrative business but, in reality, ‘I can has cheezburger’ made its creators very wealthy men

Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami made the infamous cat image back in 2007, and bought the domain of the same name in order to share it online They then added a series of other photos, showing the cat obtaining said ‘cheez burger’ Within a few days, fans began submitting their own creations Things kind of snowballed from there At its peak in May 2007, the site was receiving 1

5 million hits a day, with over 8,000 animal memes uploaded to it every day In 2007, the pair sold icanhascheezburgercom to internet entrepreneur Ben Huh for $2 million He made it into the flagship site for the ‘Cheezburger Network’, which also includes ‘FAIL Blog’ and ‘Know Your Meme’

He also published a spin-off book that made the New York Times Bestseller list and made an estimated half a million from book sales alone NUMBER 8: SANTA MAIL I hate to burst your innocence bubble, kids… Santa isn’t real And if you thought he was because you once got a letter from him, then there’s a chance you might have been the recipient of a ‘Santa Mail’ letter Writing to Santa is one of the most popular festive traditions Every year in America, postal operators receive over 1,000,000 letters addressed to jolly Saint Nick

In 2002, entrepreneur Byron Reese came up with the so-stupidly-obvious-it’s-genius idea to make a dollar or two off this tradition and set up ‘Santa Mail’ Basically, the simple premise of Santa Mail is that parents send off their child’s letter, with a fee of $995 enclosed The company will then reply to the letter with a personalized response from Father Christmas himself, complete with a postmark from the North Pole To date, the company has sent letters to over 500,000 children, making a cool $5 million

Considering all Santa Mail needs to do is fill in a ‘your name here’ template letter and stick a stamp on an envelope, I bet business people everywhere are kicking themselves that they didn’t come up with it first NUMBER 7: BIG MOUTH BILLY BASS In the late 1990s, Joe Pellettieri [Pell-er-tee-air-ee] came up with a bizarre invention that would soon grace the walls of millions of houses worldwide – the now iconic rubber singing fish Pelletieri, who worked for the novelty item company ‘Gemmy Industries’, was under pressure to come up with a hit new idea, when he drove past a fishing store Lo and behold, his inspiration alarm bells went off, and history was made Released in December 1998, Big Mouth Billy Bass was a weird but simple idea

It was basically a latex rubber fish that would turn its head, wiggle its tail and sing a song Who’d have thought there’d be millions of dollars in that? This fintastic product was a near-instant hit Stores sold out so fast that they had to set up waiting lists, and millions of units were sold at around $25 each It’s even rumored that Queen Elizabeth II herself kept one on top of her piano Songs in Big Mouth Billy’s repertoire included ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ by Bobby McFerrin and ‘Take Me To The River’ by Al Green

In fact, Green once admitted that he’d received more royalties from sales of the musical fish than from any other recording of the song NUMBER 6: BILLY-BOB TEETH From one Billy to another, now, and we’re sticking with peculiar 90s novelty items… That’s right, it wasn’t just the decade of Fresh Prince, tamagotchis and platform trainers – it was the era of Billy-Bob Teeth The idea for these gross fake teeth came about in 1994, when Jonah White was at a college football game and saw a fellow student trying to pick up girls while wearing a pair The student in question was Rich Bailey, who was studying dentistry It turned out he’d made the pair in his school’s lab as a joke

White and Bailey decided to go into business together and market the teeth as a weird but fun gimmick, costing about $20 a pair They came up with a whole set of different prank dentures, including a special range designed specifically as Austin Powers merchandise Yeahhh baby Nobody could have predicted how insanely popular they would become Within 10 years, the duo sold 15 million pairs, which – astonishingly – makes them one of the most successful novelty-gift makers in American history NUMBER 5: PLASTIC WISHBONE Ever wanted to make a wish using part of a bird’s skeleton but were reluctant to get all that greasy animal fat all over your hands? Maybe you’re vegetarian and feel like you’re missing out on some essential luck-boosting opportunities… [play Friends clip ‘Just because we don’t eat the meat, it doesn’t mean we don’t like to play with the carcuses’] Well, our next entry came up with a solution to that totally devastating conundrum – the invention of a plastic wishbone Ken Ahroni came up with this groundbreaking idea at his 47th birthday dinner in November 1999

He said that the inspiration for the novelty item came from watching his young children squabble over who got the break the turkey wishbone He realized how much easier it would be if there were more than one bone, and set out to make ‘Lucky Break Wishbones’ This was to be the beginning of Ken’s lucky break The wishbones, which sold for $399, proved remarkably popular with the public

Within 7 years, all his wishes had come true… ‘Lucky Break’ hit $1 million in sales and Ken’s invention was being stocked in nearly 1000 stores across 40 states NUMBER 4: THE SNUGGIE The Snuggie is one of the weirdest cult phenomena to ever take off In case you’ve never seen one of these super sexy outfits, they are nothing more, nothing less than just a blanket with sleeves [edit Sam to look like he’s wearing one] They sell for $1995 each and come in a range of stylish colors and sizes

You wouldn’t think that such a simple – or even silly – invention would be that much of a money-spinner But the makers of the Snuggie have over $60 million in the bank that would prove that assumption wrong [‘when you assume’ clip] Arguably, the secret to the Snuggie’s success was its 2008 advertising campaign Basically, the advertisers realized how ridiculous it looks and that no self-respecting person would wear one, and decided to hype up that ludicracy Humorous Snuggie commercials, featuring families lazing around in the offending outfit, roasting marshmallows and attending sports events, quickly went viral

As a result, hundreds of thousands of people bought snuggies Whether they bought them as jokes, gifts or because they genuinely thought they look comfy – it doesn’t matter once that money piles up in Snuggie’s bank account NUMBER 3: THE MILLION DOLLAR HOME PAGE Again, this next one kinda plays fast and loose with that vague distinction between genius and stupidity – mainly because it’s such a simple idea that really should not have been as successful as it was The Million Dollar Home Page was the brainchild of 21-year-old British student Alex Tew, designed to help him raise money for his Business Management course at the University of Nottingham Tew bought the domain ‘MillionDollarHomepage

com’ in 2005, and created a homepage that consists of a million pixels arranged in a 1000 by 1000 pixel grid He sold pixel blocks to companies wishing to advertise on his page People who bought a pixel could provide a tiny image to be displayed on the page, and a URL to which the images were linked Tew’s aim was to sell all of the pixels in the image, making him a millionaire As much to his surprise as everyone else’s, the plan actually worked

Thanks mainly to a large amount of media attention, Tew made his million in five months Kind of disappointingly, he dropped out of his degree after just a few months to pursue a career as an entrepreneur, but I guess that’s understandable considering his success NUMBER 2: THE SLINKY At the end of the day, a slinky is just a big spring Nothing else Sometimes they spruce them up with a colorful pattern, but it’s still never more than a big spring that falls down stairs

The iconic toy was invented by Richard James, a notoriously clumsy naval engineer In the early 1940s, James was working and he dropped a tension spring The spring ‘walked’ along the floor, you know how a slinky does, and the engineer had his lightbulb moment He debuted the slinky in 1945, having made 400 prototypes, and they sold out in 90 minutes Today, the ridiculously simple invention has made him an incredible $250 million

Since it sprung to fame – ha, geddit? ‘Sprung’ oh never mind – over 300 million slinkys have been sold If you stretched all of these out as tight as they go and put them end to end, they would circumnavigate the Earth 171 times

But then I don’t really know why you would do that, unless you reaaaally have too much time on your hands NUMBER 1: DOGGLES Doggles are exactly what you expect them to be… goggles for dogs These fetching eyewear became an unlikely success in the early noughties, after inventor Roni Di Lullo noticed her dog, Midknight, squinting in the sun She developed a pair of sports goggles that would fit the shape of a dog’s head and established the ‘Doggles Company’ I know they sound like a stupid gimmick, but Doggles ended up being amazingly successful

Millions of pairs have been sold to pooches at $1990 each, and they are currently sold in 4,500 shops in 16 countries And they actually have some extremely-not-silly uses In 2004, over 120 pairs were sent out to US Army dogs working in Iraq, as protection from the sun and also from the effects of desert sandstorms In 2007, British newspapers reported on the story of a dog suffering from a rare autoimmune disorder that means it cannot produce tears

Doggles came to the rescue here, as well, preventing the poor pup’s eyes from drying out Doggles are far from the only pet accessory to see this kind of success America is home to an absolutely insane $15 billion pet market, with other canine cash cows including dog wigs, dogbrellas and whatever this weird doggy duck bill thing is So that was 10 Dumbest Inventions That Made Millions Which did you think was the most ridiculous? And, if you enjoyed this video, make sure you check out 10 Iconic American Things That Aren’t Actually American, and give us a like and subscribe while you’re at it

Until next time, thanks for watching!

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