Jun 30 2011

The Man who Invented Sea Monkeys

“Always clowning around, these frolicsome pets swim, stunt and play games with each other. Because they are so full of tricks, you’ll never tire of watching them”.


Harold von Braunhut was a great inventor, but an even greater copywriter. Who could resist his hypnotic sales pitch?

The stories in Richie Rich comics were good, but we were more fascinated by the advertisements for von Braunhut’s products that featured on the back cover of each issue after 1962. Personal hovercrafts, whoppee cushions, daisy guns, electric hand buzzers, and especially Xray specs and Sea Monkeys. We knew why the lucky guy with the Xray specs was looking at that woman. Of course, they couldn’t really work – or could they? After all, they were from New York, so who knows. Being from such a distant and exotic location, they were completely unobtainable for us in Australia.


The only things we could buy in the Australian comic books (Donald Duck and the Phantom) were 2nd hand stamps from the Seven Sea Stamp Company in Dubbo, which appears to be still in operation.

Eventually Sea Monkeys did become available in Australia. Unfortunately, reality didn’t stand up to epectations. They didn’t look like the mermaid creatures shown as ‘caricatures’ in the ad. Is that them, or is it just dust on top of the water? Is that frolicking , or just brownian motion?

Perhaps it is lucky we had to be satisfied with stamps, rather than be subjected to the full catalogue of von Braunhut’s imagination. He certainly became very wealthy on the back of his salesmanship.

It appears that there was also a darker side to Harold von Braunhut, as outlined in an article this week in The Awl, The Shocking True Tale of the Mad Genius Who Invented Sea Monkeys.

Do you remember any ads from your comic book reading days?

What I Learnt On 30th June in other years

30th June 2012 That's in QueenslandThat’s in Queensland

One Response to “The Man who Invented Sea Monkeys”

  1. Michelle Bourke says:

    Concerned that the sea monkeys would grow big enough to take over my room, I first signed up for Charles Atlas’ body building course, only to be cast as the guy who gets sand kicked in his face. Disappointed with that result, I signed up to sell Grit. Not ONE customer was interested in purchasing crushed up shells. Crushed, I decided the best way to become socially admired was to emulate my favourite cartoon character. To my surprise, becoming Sad Sack did not make me as popular as Archie…..sighBrendan

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