They may look like they’ve been here forever (after all we had rubber balloons since 1824) but water balloons were actually invented in the 1950s. What was their inventor trying to find out when he ended up creating one of our favorite childhood toys? A solution to prevent trench foot.
Here’s the interesting story.
In early 1950s British inventor Edgar Ellington tried to find a solution in order to prevent trench foot, the disease caused by an extended exposure of the feet to cold conditions. Ellington started working on various ideas and the one he landed on, was a waterproof sock. The waterproof sock was basically a normal sock that was covered with latex in order to be watertight. (the article continues after the ad)
When he tried to put them on, he found out that latex was incredibly tight making them almost impossible to wear. To make them more elastic, he had the idea of heating the sock. The heating worked, as latex became more elastic, but it created another, more serious problem; it was damaged.
When Ellington tried to see if the socks were still waterproof, he filled them with water only to find out that water was gushing from the side. Frustrated by the whole situation, he took the water-filled sock and threw it on the table! The “balloon” exploded.
Satisfied with the burst, a second idea was born: water balloons for the children! Their first name was “water grenades” but he eventually decided to stick with “water balloons” to make it child-friendly. That was it, the water balloon was invented!