March 8, 2024 | Sarah Ng

17 Dumb Inventions That Made Millions


Simple Moneymakers

The following inventions are so brilliantly simple—and yet they managed to make millions. They'll make you scratch your head and think, "Well, I could have thought of that"...Only, you didn't.

Inventions-Msn

Lucky Break Wishbones

Creator Ken Ahroni is the mastermind behind the Lucky Break Wishbone. In 1999, while celebrating Thanksgiving, he observed how many members of his family wanted the turkey wishbone for themselves. He came up with the perfect solution. What if everyone could have their own wishbone?

Lucky Break WishbonesRoger Smith, Flickr

A Wishbone For Everyone

Five years later, Ahroni left behind his consulting business and turned his focus on a new venture: the Lucky Break Wishbone Corp. His company sold plastic wishbones, and miraculously, people bought them.

In sales across the US, it reaped close to $1 million.

Lucky Break WishbonesCinnamon Cooper, Flickr

The Million-Dollar Home Page

The Million-Dollar Home Page came straight from the mind of 21-year-old Alex Tew—a British student looking for a way to fund his college tuition. That's when he came up with his web page. The page had one million pixels, and Tew wanted to sell each pixel for $1.

Alex TewRyan Andrew, Flickr

Advertisement

$1 Per Pixel

Tew's proposition worked and advertisers got behind him, buying up pixel space. It took a bit longer than 12 months to completely sell out of pixels, making Tew a very rich young man.

Million Dollar HomepageElisa, Flickr

Slap Bracelets

When you were a kid, you probably wore at least one slap bracelet. The inventor, Stuart Andrews was a high school shop teacher. He had a pretty ordinary life, that is, until he invented a bracelet kids went crazy for.

In 1990, his simple invention generated between six to eight million.

Slap braceletTim McCune, Flickr

The Snuggie

Invented by Scott Boilen, the Snuggie can thank its genius advertising campaign for its wild success. The infomercials seen everywhere struck a chord with viewers. They advertised happy families enjoying the comforts of their Snuggies in a wide variety of settings, such as athletic events or even camping. 

The profits were jaw-dropping.

The SnuggieOakleyOriginals, Flickr

Blanketing The World

Though its has competitors like Slanket and Toasty Wrap, the Snuggie has come out on top, raking in over $500 million and selling over 30 million units.

The SnuggieShawn Collins, Flickr

Tamagotchis

Beginning in the mid-90s, Tamagotchis were perfect for any child who couldn't have a real pet. Instead, tweens could take care of their very own virtual pets in the palms of their hands.  

TamagochiesiMorpheus, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Virtual Pet Everyone Tween Wanted

In fact, Tamagotchis were designed with young girls in mind because they could play at being a mother.

Tamagotchis were a huge hit—and since hitting the market, around 76 million units have been sold. The profits were sky-high: an estimated $900 million.

green tamagotchiVera Aksionava, Shutterstock

Advertisement

Crocs

Depending on who you are, wearing crocs can be a fashion statement or a fashion faux pas. Originally designed as a spa shoe, the rest of the world eventually caught on. Crocs were downright comfy.

crocs on the beachSimone Zucchelli, Flickr

The Comfortable Shoe That Could

Crocs were so comfortable that there was a shockingly high demand for them. At their very peak, the company brought in $1 billion per year.

Purple crocsRupert Ganzer, Flickr

Post-It Notes

Post-It Notes were created by accident. A 3M scientist had been trying to produce a very strong adhesive, but instead, discovered the exact opposite—a resusable, weak adhesive. One of his peers decided to use this adhesive recipe to his advantage.

post-itSkyLynx, Shutterstock

A Scrap Piece Of Paper

The scientist Arty Fry took his colleague's adhesive and applied it to a yellow piece of paper. He found it useful for marking his spot in his church hymnal. This was the very first Post-It.

Though the patent ended in the 1990s, the company is still going strong, bringing in $1 billion every year.

post itHave a nice day Photo, Shutterstock

Beanie Babies

Ty Warner really took a chance when he decided to chase the Beanie Baby dream. He invested his life's savings and even mortgaged his home in order to bring his idea to life.

Beanie Babiesslgckgc, Flickr

Skyrocketing Net Worth

Beanie Babies were one of the most profitable toys, catapulting Ty Warner's net worth to an estimated $2.5 billion. At the height of the Beanie Baby craze, the company had an annual revenue of $700 million.

Beanie BabiesElizabeth K. Joseph, Flickr

Advertisement

The Slinky

The slinky has a pretty great backstory. In 1943, an engineer was trying to create springs to help stabilize ship cargo. However, when one of these springs fell, he noticed that it made a very pleasing shape.

The SlinkyRyk Neethling, Flickr

An Instant Hit

To produce the first batch of 400 slinkies, the engineer took out a loan of $500. It only took the slinky a day to become a hit after being displayed at a department store in Philadelphia.

multi-colored slinky toyVanoVasaio, Shutterstock

Springing Up And Away

The slinky certainly had its time in the sun. Between 1945 and 2005, over 300 million units were sold. Moreover, in the two first years, it managed to rake in $100 million.

SlinkyKoyel, Shutterstock

Chia Pets

In the early 1980s, Chia Pets took the world by storm. These fun planters may be 100% kitschy, but people adore them. Though the total profits remain undisclosed, as of 2007, the production company claimed to sell around 500,000 during the annual holidays.

Chia Petnosmith, Shutterstock

Pet Rock

The success of the Pet Rock never ceases to amaze me. Anyone could have thought this up...but only one lucky man actually did. It was the brainchild of the advertising executive, Gary Dahl.

Pet rocktxking, Shutterstock

What's Better Than A Pet?

In 1976, Gary Dahl grew weary of his friends complaining about their pets, so he made a joke about a Pet Rock. However, he eventually began thinking about this idea seriously.

Pet RockAndrew Booth, Flickr

Advertisement

He Was Laughing At Us

Dahl's product was an average grey rock that came with a manual for how to properly care for it. In one year, he sold 1.5 million of these rocks. The price tag? $4 a pop. 

Pet RockLactoso, Flickr

Magic 8-Ball

Before the massively popular Magic 8-Ball, there was The Syco-Seer, which came in a cylindrical shape. It was created by Albert C Carter in 1946—the son of a psychic. However, the Syco-Seer was nowhere near as successful as what was to come...

Magic 8-Ballbanlon1964, Flickr

The Winning Billiards Ball

In 1950, the Brunswick Billiards company decided to make a promotional product similar to the Syco-Seer, but in the shape of a billiards ball. This is what kept people coming back.

These days, Mattel owns the Magic-8 Ball, and they reportedly sell over a million units a year.

magic 8 ballAlexander Ishchenko, Shutterstock

Billy Bob Teeth

It may seem like a bad idea to invest in a product that makes people look ugly—but when it comes to Billy Bob Teeth, it was actually a very good idea.

Fake Crooked TeethJ.Gatherum, Shutterstock

Ugly Sells

The brain behind Billy Bob Teeth, Inc is Jonah White, who managed to profit off the fake sets of nasty teeth. Since 1993, over 20 million units have been sold.

Billy Bob teethTony Crescibene, Flickr

Bottled Water

In the first world, most folks have acces to drinkable tap water. And yet, despite this privilege, people are still buying bottled water, making its producers wildly wealthy.

Bottled WaterGeorge Becker, Pexels

Plastic Please

From 1990 to 2005, the consumption of bottled water quadrupled, and the market is still going strong. Reportedly, on an annual basis, bottled water generates $60 billion.

Bottled WaterMyrtle Beach TheDigitel, Flickr

Furbies

As a child, all I wanted was a Furby. Every kid had one. It's only in retrospect that I see just how terrifying these little robots were. And yet, they struck gold with this furry, owl-like creature that spoke.

FurbiesRobert Gourley, Flickr

An Expensive Furry Robot

A Furby was not cheap: a unit sold for around $35, minimum. Keep that in mind when considering 40 million of them sold in just three years. 

furbyVickie Intili, Flickr

Kleenex

In 1924, the Kleenex had a different purpose. They were considered to be a "disposable face towel" and targeted women as their main consumers. The Kleenex was an effective makeup remover. But then the company shifted the marketing scheme.

kleenex tissuesHans, Needpix

A Different Marketing Strategy

Later, the Kleenex became a disposable handkerchief, making the product instrumental in stopping colds and germs from spreading. Reportedly, the brand's value is an estimated $3.1 billion.

box of KleenexRustyR, Shutterstock

Koosh Balls

Koosh Balls are covered in rubbery hair and are quite fun, but who would have thought they were enough fun to generate millions? Not me. 

Koosh Ball WallK Tempest Bradford, CC BY 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Rubbery Delights

Koosh Balls were developed in the mid-1980s by Scott Stillinger, who eventually began the comopany OddzOn. The profits from these rubbery delights are an estimated $100 million. 

Koosh BallsKlee Oliver, Flickr

 


READ MORE

Budgeting for Beginners

Learn how to start a budget from scratch, including programs to use, typical expenses to track, how to organize categories, and examples of everything. From fixed and variable expenses to how often to update things, this article will make starting a budget much less overwhelming.
April 11, 2024 Allison Robertson

The Importance of Teaching Kids About Money

Uncover 20 ways to teach your children about money. Find out why financial literacy is important and how many Americans are negatively affected by financial illiteracy today, emphasizing the need to teach our children at a younger age.
April 9, 2024 Allison Robertson

The Gen Z Approach to Saving

Uncover the newest in financial trends, including how Generation Z plans to save (or not save) for the future. From prioritizing mental health to living in the moment, find out how the new generations are setting up their finances, and what their plans are for retirement.
April 5, 2024 Allison Robertson

Self-Made Millionaires Who Didn’t Finish School

Discover 16 of the world's wealthiest people who dropped out of school to follow their dreams. From working in mail rooms and delivering milk, to developing software in their garages, find out how these millionaires started from the bottom and what their net worth is today.
April 5, 2024 Sammy Tran
Happy Typist and Vintage Baseball Cards

These Antiques In Your Attic Might Be Worth A Ton Of Money

Whether you still have your parents' old collectibles or have inherited some interesting antiques don't be so quick to write them off.
April 4, 2024 Sarah Ng

The Rise of Semi-Retirement

Full retirement is no longer the only option. From supplemental income to boredom relief, there are many reasons why people are now choosing semi-retirement over full-retirement. Here's everything you need to know before you retire.
April 3, 2024 Allison Robertson



Dear reader,


It’s true what they say: money makes the world go round. In order to succeed in this life, you need to have a good grasp of key financial concepts. That’s where Moneymade comes in. Our mission is to provide you with the best financial advice and information to help you navigate this ever-changing world. Sometimes, generating wealth just requires common sense. Don’t max out your credit card if you can’t afford the interest payments. Don’t overspend on Christmas shopping. When ordering gifts on Amazon, make sure you factor in taxes and shipping costs. If you need a new car, consider a model that’s easy to repair instead of an expensive BMW or Mercedes. Sometimes you dream vacation to Hawaii or the Bahamas just isn’t in the budget, but there may be more affordable all-inclusive hotels if you know where to look.


Looking for a new home? Make sure you get a mortgage rate that works for you. That means understanding the difference between fixed and variable interest rates. Whether you’re looking to learn how to make money, save money, or invest your money, our well-researched and insightful content will set you on the path to financial success. Passionate about mortgage rates, real estate, investing, saving, or anything money-related? Looking to learn how to generate wealth? Improve your life today with Moneymade. If you have any feedback for the MoneyMade team, please reach out to [email protected]. Thanks for your help!


Warmest regards,

The Moneymade team