The Wham-O Super Ball

After more than 20 years, the original Super Ball is bouncing back.

The 1-13/16-inch-diameter ball landed on shelves last fall. Wham-O, the company that brought out the original toy, used the same molds and Zectron "double top-secret" formula to re-create it.

Zectron was an accidental discovery by chemical engineer Norman Stingley. He was looking for something else, but found a material which, when formed into a ball at a pressure of 50,000 pounds, was amazingly bouncy. It rebounds 90 percent. He brought his discovery to Wham-O, which had produced such hits as the Hula Hoop, Frisbee, and Slip 'n' Slide.

Super Balls began to hit sidewalks (and chandeliers) in 1966. Wham-O had another success.

In the 1970s, though, Super Ball knockoffs flooded the market and began to undersell the premium-priced toy. Super Ball sales dropped, and Wham-O stopped making them in 1976.

Wham-O was later bought and sold twice. In 1997 it became independent again, setting the stage for Super Ball's attempted comeback.

*If you wonder 'Whatever happened to...' write us at: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail: whatever@csmonitor.com

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