According to a 1973 Sesame Street calendar, Rubber Duckie’s Birthday is January 13th so around the country it’s National Rubber Ducky Day! A friend of Ernie and Big Bird, Duckie made his debut in a February 1970 episode.
The rubber ducky (also spelled duckie) has come a long way from his first concept as a chew toy for children. While the origin of the first rubber ducky is uncertain, many rubber molded toys came about when rubber manufacturing developed in the late 1800s. They produced a variety of toys from dolls and various animal shapes, including the rubber duck.
In 1928, Landon Smart Lawrence received the earliest patent for a rubber duck toy. His clever design weighted the toy so that when it tipped it returned to an upright position. The sketch included with the patent was that of a duck.
During World Wars I and II, rubber was a valuable commodity. Rationing became mandatory and by the 1940s with the advent of plastic, the rubber ducky began being produced in vinyl and plastic.
Russian Sculptor Peter Ganine sculpted many animal figures. One, a duck, he later designed and patented into a floating toy that closely resembles the rubber ducky we have become familiar with today.
Sales of the iconic yellow rubber ducky we’ve come to know today soared in Britain in 2001. Why? A British Tabloid, The Sun, reported Queen Elizabeth II had a rubber duck in her bathroom that wore an inflatable crown.
The rubber ducky became a Toy Hall of Fame inductee in 2013. Founded in 1998, the Hall of Fame has only inducted 52 other toys.