What do you call a long, over-sized water balloon that’s shaped like a…well, a big hot dog? Wham-O called it a Water Wiennie. The name alone is worth a look. After all, in the mind of a 10 year-old boy, when it comes to words like wienie, poop and fart…wienie is right up there. Remember, “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar-Mayer wiener?” That song would not have been nearly as memorable if the lyrics were, “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar-Mayer hot dog.” Armour had a good riff with their hot dog song, but being able to sing “…wiener”, that’s liberating for a kid.
So, you could say “beans and wienies” when referring to dinner, but adults say that, so it was no big deal. The name Water Wiennie was just the beginning. The shape, coupled with the name, is what gives this baby personality.
The boys come by this honestly. According to Merriam-Webster, a “wienie” is a frankfurter and a “weenie” is a weak person who is easily frightened. Merriam-Webster also says “weenie” is a slang term for a, ahem…you-know-what. Maybe that’s the real reason Wham-O threw in that extra “n” and chose the unique spelling.
So, what’s a Wham-O Water Wiennie? According to the package, it’s an “amazing power tube that squirts water great distances.” Wham-O even tells you the Water Wiennie “expands to giant size for super water power”. What a blast. It’s a giant water balloon that’s used to squirt water. Wham-O delivered two of these in a package – one for you to squirt at someone, and one for someone to squirt back at you. These are regular super-soakers, 1970s-style!
Wham-O released the Water Wiennie in 1972. Mounted on colorful blister-pack cardboard, you got two Wiennies, two nicely-tapered tips for squirting, and a custom filler cap that screwed onto the outside hose bib for quick and easy refills. Even though instructions were inside, there were some right on the front of the package so parents could check out how easy it would be to leave the 10 year-old boys alone with this toy.
The instructions basically said:
Screw the cap onto the hose bib.
Turn on the water.
Hold the tip firmly in place.
Do not fill the last inch.
Do not over fill.
Pinch the nozzle shut as you pull the wiennie away.
Want to know how far the Water Wiennie shoots? Wham-O tells you right on the front of the package: “Up to great distances”. That’s far. There’s also a warning not to squirt at close range. Right…tell that to the kid with the sister – big or little – she’s gettin’ it up close. In 1972, you could pick up one of these mega squirters for less than $2. In 2013, they were selling for around $50 in some places, although some people are asking as much as $150 and more.
Overall, Wham-O’s Water Wiennie is a blast. You could have water fights with your buddies, make up contests, squirt the girls and have some great, wet, summer fun. Even though they made BB guns, crossbows and throwing knives, Wham-O made good toys in general. But in the 1970s, Wham-O made great water toys, and the Water Wiennie was one of them.