Holiday Gift Idea: The Original Incredible Weather String, 1976
Weather weenies are easy to shop for. Send a barometer or a rain gauge, a weather diary, or pay for a subscription to Weatherwise if you’ve waited too long to mail something. But if you want to punk the weather lover in your life, I suggest The Original Incredible Weather String™.
It’s a gag gift from 1976, ridiculous and fun, combining a post-Watergate take on politics with a bit of Whole Earth Catalog sensibility. (And as of 12/16/2017, there are four available on eBay, bids starting at just $2.99.)
The Original Incredible Weather String™ came in a corked test tube, mounted in a 15” full color cardboard box, complete with a stabilizing metal tack for installation. And it carried a 100% Lifetime Guarantee:
Only the Original Incredible WEATHER STRING™ makes this amazing, ironclad, lifetime guarantee: “You bought it, you own it.” For as long as you live! If your Original Incredible WEATHER STRING should ever fail you, for any reason, simply untie it, clearly label the defect, and send the Original Incredible WEATHER STRING back to us, post paid. Include $4.95 for postage and handling. After handling the Original Incredible WEATHER STRING, we will throw it away and you’ll be rid of it. For as long as you live.
But it’s the 79-page owner’s manual where the real fun is. After hints on installation (hang it wherever you have a “need to know” the weather) you’ll learn the Original Incredible Weather String’s high-tech method of operation: “Whenever special precipitometer segment (loose end) drips, you can actually see it! Infallible proof that either: (a) it is raining or (b) it has recently been raining.”
For farmers, “whole seasons are obvious with the Original Incredible Weather String,” aided by easy to remember proverbs like “Frozen hard enough to splinter? / The String tells us it must be winter.”
The String could also reveal natural disasters, detect fog and smog, and even protect a home birdfeeder from marauding blue jays.
Finally, the String accurately measured the political climate, too. The String could be used to test one’s political support amidst the first presidential election after Richard Nixon resigned. Your popularity might be not so hot when “folks who approach you from behind, carrying an Original Incredible Weather String fastened like a noose.” What to do? “Shout ‘I am not a crook!’ and then stonewall it. Results vary.”
But best of all was the testimonials section, including the story of the man who used his Original Incredible Weather String to repair his shoelace during a job interview (he got the job). Another came from the Citizen Action Group who used an Original Incredible Weather String to close the local linoleum plant. Concerned parents hung a weather string from one of fourteen smokestacks, and in 20 minutes it was “caked with black soot and smelled strongly of sulfur and batwing.” The String became evidence in successful class action suit, along with “several pairs of partially disintegrated pantyhose and a dead hamster.”
- The Original Incredible Weather String™, produced in 1976 by Ray Welch Associates, Boston. Pictures by Roger Turner of the object in his personal collection.