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Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. A rubber duck is a toy shaped like a stylized duck, generally yellow with a flat base. It may be made of rubber or rubber-like material such as vinyl plastic. The yellow rubber duck has achieved an iconic status in Western pop culture and is often symbolically linked to bathing.
Various novelty variations of the toy are produced. The history of the rubber duck is linked to the emergence of rubber manufacturing in the late 19th century. The earliest rubber ducks were made from harder rubber when manufacturers began using Charles Goodyear’s invention, vulcanized rubber. As a consequence, these solid rubber ducks were not capable of floating, but instead were intended for use as chew toys.
Sculptor Peter Ganine created a sculpture of a duck in the 1940s, then patented it and reproduced it as a floating toy, of which over 50,000,000 were sold. Ernie, a popular Muppet from the television series Sesame Street, performed the song “Rubber Duckie. Ernie frequently spoke to his duck and carried it with him in other segments of the show. On a special occasion, Little Richard performed the song.
Mack truck with a bathtub toy and used the on-air handle of “Rubber Duck”. Besides the ubiquitous yellow rubber duck with which most people are familiar, there have been numerous novelty variations on the basic theme, including character ducks representing professions, politicians, or licensed individual celebrities.
There are also ducks that glow in the dark, change color, have interior LED illumination, or include a wind-up engine that enables them to “swim”. In 2001, The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper reported that Queen Elizabeth II has a rubber duck in her bathroom that wears an inflatable crown. The duck was spotted by a workman who was repainting her bathroom. Rubber ducks are collected by a small number of enthusiasts.
The 2007 Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Rubber Duck Collection stood at 1,439 different rubber ducks, and was awarded to Charlotte Lee. China’s “Great Firewall” blocks searches for “big yellow duck” after a doctored photograph replacing tanks with giant rubber ducks in a famous Tiananmen Square Massacre photograph, Tank Man, became popular. In 2013 rubber ducks were inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. Rubber Ducks joined a list of only 63 other toys that have also inducted into the Hall of Fame since its founding in 1998.