1960s: “Sea Monkeys” Ads

Sea-Monkeys is a brand name for brine shrimp. Harold von Braunhut invented the product in 1957. Initially called “Instant Life”, von Braunhut changed the name to “Sea-Monkeys” in 1962. Von Braunhut is quoted as stating: “I think I bought something like 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year. It worked beautifully.” The astronaut John Glenn took Sea-Monkeys into space on October 29, 1998 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.”

- Wikipedia

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Goggles aficionado. Retronaut’s founder and curator.

15 Responses

  1. Mistletoe Gayer

    Such false advertising, giving the impression that they look anything like that.

    Reply
  2. MerryMarjie

    OMG, I hadn’t thought of Sea Monkeys in decades! When I was a little girl, seeing these ads in comic books created such a desire in me to “grow life,” and yet, scraping up $1.25 wouldn’t be easy, nor prudent for the lifestyle we lived. My monetary shortcomings were proved fortunate when I found out later that these were just brine shrimp, and not little sea people.

    Mistletoe, this was only the tip of the iceberg for false advertising. There was no “truth in advertising” in those days and anyone could say or write anything without proving a thing. (BTW, I believe “training” was that the shrimp would follow food.) One man made a good deal of money by putting an ad in a magazine saying, “Last chance! Send me your $1 today!” and many people complied with no idea of what they’d get, which, of course, was nothing. Actors dressed as doctors would appear on TV saying they WERE doctors and they approved various products, from cigarettes to makeup. Outrageous claims could be made with no proof provided. I believe it was the “Buyer, Beware” age, and as evidenced by the mass of ignorance on the Internet, people were just as gullible then.

    Thanks for the memories, Retronaut!

    Reply
  3. Mike F

    Such blatant lies….dreadful.
    Interesting the Sea-Monkey Guarantee company was in Flushing….that’s probably what happened to most of them !

    Reply
  4. Mistletoe Gayer

    Was there a South Park episode based on Sea Monkeys? Or a Simpsons one, maybe? It featured a civilisation of them all looking like these drawings, not like brine shrimp!

    Reply
  5. John

    I remember all of these ads very well, and I actually had “Sea Monkeys” as a kid. Miscellania:

    - Adult brine shrimp have three eyes, hence the three circles on the “crowns” of the cartoon Sea Monkeys heads

    - Brine shrimp are attracted to light, and would follow a small flashlight beam, though they didn’t need to be “trained” to do this

    - Regardless of the false advertising, they actually were fun to watch … I remember quite a few kids besides myself who enjoyed them

    Reply
  6. Betsy Rubin

    Yes, they were SO cute. I wanted them so much. I saw the ads again and again in the backs of my comic books. I remember thinking, they couldn’t possibly REALLY be like little people, could they? Well, probably not, but … what if they were?! I think I saved my allowance and ordered them somehow (maybe secretly), and… come to find out, no, they were not little people, nor even little monkeys… just a little packet of little dry things. I don’t know if I even tried to hatch them. It was a disappointment but I remember thinking, oh well, it did seem too good to be true. I still found the picture so enchanting that I never forgot it.

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  7. Larry

    Sounds like quite a few readers never heard of this before. Trust us, no one was permanently scarred by a comic book ad. Maybe a bit of a stretch, but probably another example of how kids had to figure out things on their own. Live and learn. The ads were more entertaining than the comics most of the time.

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  8. Xap

    Brine Shrimps (Artemia) are actually the best way to feed breeding fishes (when are nauplia) and marine fishes when they becomes adult.

    Reply
  9. Khaymanbb

    I remember these…even ordered some out of an old comic book my uncle gave me when I was a kid in the 80′s. Funny thing was, they shipped! Wasn’t too disappointed, they were alive at least. Died a few weeks later. I always ALWAYS wanted to order the “Working Submarine” though! Knew it would most likely not work, so never did…

    Reply
  10. Morgan S.

    Oh yeah, the stupid sea monkeys. I was one of the gullible dorks who saved up & sent away, believing the ads (I was a real dumb kid). And I followed the instructions…only to discover they were revolting little insect-like critters with a billion legs. Down the toilet they went.

    Reply
  11. J Propst

    Speaking of false adverts: remember the “Solar-Powered Clothes Dryer”? Send in your $3.98 and recieve by post a bit of twine…

    Reply

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