Whether it's true of not, the story behind the Pogo Stick is far too good not to grace the pages of the DYR website. It all came to light on 6 December 1959, when a man called George appeared on TV's What's My Line?
Legend has it that George Hansburg, an American explorer, was making his way across Burma when he met a poor farmer. This farmer had a daughter, who was named Pogo. Now, Pogo was only little and, as the family was so poor, she had no shoes, so making her way through to temple every day, over rocks and mud, was impossible for her. Which is why her devoted dad decided to make a stick for his daughter so she could traverse these daily obstacles. It's yet another case in point of how parental love can lead to creative genius - take the success of the Lucky Troll for example, carved up by a poor father for his doll-less daughter in Norway.
Hansburg was so impressed by what he saw that, on returning to America, he immediately went about making his own bouncing stick, this time attaching a spring to the wooden shaft. And in 1919, the explorer patented his design and called it the Pogo Stick.
Unfortunately, Hansburg's wooden creation was flawed - during the first attempt to ship a over to The Gimble Brothers Department Store most of them were ruined by rot. So, it was back to the drawing board, and Hansburg came up with the much more resilient, metal stick we know as the Master Pogo, courtesy of his own company SBI Enterprises.
Pogo Sticks were massively popular when they were first produced in the 20s - chorus girls performed on them, couples even bounced together as they exchanged their marital vows, and many a contest arranged to see who could Pogo the farthest.
Even after SBI Enterprises was sold to a New York businessman in the early 70s, production of the Pogo Stick continued with some success. It's said to have influenced punks in the 70s to start the Pogo dance, based on the actions of jumping on the stick. Today they're enjoying a bit of a resurgence, along with the likes of other rather basic examples of retro inventions - roller boots, yo-yos and skipping ropes. There's even a form of stunt or extreme Pogo that's emerged with the enhanced capabilities of today's Pogo Stick.
The sticks themselves have seen a number of changes and gimmicks over the years - from superhero Spiderman handlebars to bounce-ometer features to keep track of your bounces - and whether the farmer from Burma would approve of this or not remains to be known. And, of course, it remains to be known whether he ever existed. If he did, then maybe Pogo's watching her own kids and grandkids Pogo to the temple this very minute, and telling them how easy they've got things these days - they are no splinters, for one!