When it comes to toys, most kids have a ball — Sorry! We couldn’t resist! — with the many types of balls available today. From soccer balls and footballs to baseballs and basketballs, many sports have some type of ball associated with them.
Of course, regular rubber bouncy balls can also be fun to play with. And there’s one type of bouncy ball that is especially bouncy. What are we talking about? The Super Ball®, of course!
It has been popular for many years, so we suspect most of our Wonder Friends have played with a Super Ball® at one time or another. These rubber bouncy balls are famous for the amazing heights they can reach on bounce after bounce.
The Super Ball® was invented in 1964 by Norman Stingley, who was a chemist at the Bettis Rubber Company. He invented Zectron, which was a material made of a synthetic rubber polymer called polybutadiene, hydrated silica, zinc oxide, stearic acid and a few other ingredients.
When he compressed Zectron under high pressure (over 3,500 pounds per square inch) and high heat (over 325° F) to form a ball, the Super Ball® was born. He eventually sold his invention to toy manufacturer Wham-O. Wham-O helped him to perfect his invention into the famous toy we know today.
A Super Ball® is an extremely elastic ball known for its high coefficient of restitution. That’s a fancy, scientific way of saying it can bounce really high. How high? You might be surprised!
When dropped from shoulder level, a Super Ball® will bounce back almost all the way to where it was dropped. Thrown toward the ground by an average adult, a Super Ball® can bounce as high as a three-story building.
Wham-O once created a giant Super Ball® the size of a bowling ball. It was dropped from the top of an Australian hotel and destroyed a parked car on its second bounce!
In the 1960s, the Super Ball® quickly became a fad. By the end of 1965, Wham-O had sold over six million of the bouncy balls. Eventually, miniature versions of the bouncy ball could be bought for as little as a dime in toy vending machines.
The Super Ball® also can claim to be the inspiration for the name of one of the most popular annual sporting events in the world. Lamar Hunt, who founded the American Football League, jokingly suggested that each year’s football championship be called the “Super Bowl” after watching his kids play with a Super Ball®. It may have just been a joke, but sports writers quickly picked up on the name and it stuck!