Whoopee Cushions And Prank Phone Calls: The Oldest Tricks In The Book?

By | July 19, 2019

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Display box for Whoopee Cushion. Source: (psmag.com)

No one knows when the first prank was pulled or who was responsible for it, though it could be argued that Eve pranked Adam when she convinced him to taste the forbidden fruit. However, there are some pranks still popular today which seem like they’ve been around forever.

Whoopee Cushions

Flatulence has been a source of humor and embarrassment most likely since the first time man broke wind so it should come as no surprise that one of the first pranks involved an early version of the Whoopee Cushion. The innovative prankster was third-century Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, also known as Elagabalus. Elagabalus was only fourteen or fifteen when he became emperor of Rome in 218 AD so it’s understandable that he would occasionally indulge in juvenile antics. He was known to slip inflated animal bladders under the chairs of his dinner guests. His crude sense of humor evidently did not go over well with the Roman people as he was assassinated on March 11, 222, at the age of eighteen.

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Statue of Elagabalus. Source: (ancient.eu)

Elagabalus may have suffered an early death, but flatulence humor lived on and in the 1930s JEM Rubber Company in Toronto capitalized on it, using inflatable rubber bags rather than animal bladders. They initially approached Soren Sorensen Adams of S.S. Adams Company to distribute their product. Adams was known as the “father of novelty pranks” due to having invented more than 650 gags. However, he felt that the Whoopee Cushion was too vulgar to be commercially successful. JEM was undeterred and went on to make a deal with Johnson Smith & Company, a rival of the S.S. Adams Company. The product was a success, even during the Great Depression, and was sold under the name “Poo-Poo Cushion” and “Boop-Boop-a-Doop” before being named “Whoopee Cushion” in 1932. Once Adams realized his mistake, he made a deal with JEM and began selling a similar product called the “Razzberry Cushion.”