Origins of The Swimming Pool Noodle

Origins of The Swimming Pool Noodle

Meet the man who invented the pool noodle

From Marketplace

If you have ever spent time around an inground swimming pool, the chances are that you have seen them.  They are brightly colored, stimulate fun activity, and one of the most simplistic designs imaginable.  They are pool noodles, and the history of them is fascinating.  This post from Marketplace tells the story of the man who invented this unique and ubiquitous swimming pool toy.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

Shop for pool noodles

Steve Hartman is the CEO and president of Industrial Thermal Polymers, but he’s got another claim to fam: He’s the guy who first decided that colorful foam tubes make a pretty fun pool toy.

Hartman invented the pool noodle three decades ago when he first went into business with his dad in Toronto, Canada.

“We’re going to make backer rod,” his dad said. Steve’s follow-up question: What’s a backer rod?

Steve’s dad told him backer rods are used in anything with expansion joints – high-rises, roads, ramps, runways – you peel away the caulk or tar and there’s a foam rod in there to seal it. The Hartmans would make those foam rods.

“We always had these foam rods (lying around),” Hartman says. “They were gray and 9-footers and it seemed like every time we jumped in the pool, we were playing with these things.”

So Hartman mixed up a batch with color and tried to sell them to a few of the local pool supply stores. There was just one problem: What do you do with these things?

“We said, ‘Well, you float around with them, you hit your brother with them.’ It was a tough sell,” Hartman says.

For over a year Hartman peddled his noodles, but no one was biting. Since he made no sales, he figured why patent the thing?

But then a funny thing happened. Canadian Tire, a company that sells all kinds of stuff, bought a batch of the noodles and priced them low enough to draw folks in.

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