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The pogo stick, which is a bouncy toy, was developed by George Hansburg in 1919, according to some. Pohlmann and Goppel first manufactured the design, which was initially made of wood. The first two letters of each manufacturer's name makes up the name Pogo.
Pohlmann and Goppel exported the pogo stick to countries like the UK and US, where famous department store, Gimble’s, first carried them. The first exports were faulty because the wood warped or rotted en route to the US. Hansburg redesigned the pogo stick in metal to avoid problems resulting from using wood. Most people are more familiar with the metal pogo stick styles made today.
The first pogo sticks were used by children, as well as by men and women. The Great Ziegfeld taught his dancers how to use them onstage. In fact, the 1920s was the apex of pogo stick fascination, though the toy has gone in and out of style since then, with peaks of interest throughout the 20th and early 21st century. Newly designed pogo sticks have improved its bounce and can create huge jumps of several feet in the air with each bounce.
The traditional metal pogo stick looks like a long vertical bar with a T-bar handle for the user to hold onto. Farther down the bar, towards the ground, the stick has two foot rests on either side of the stick. Below the foot rests, the pogo stick bar continues but adds a coiled spring around the bottom portion of the straight bar. This allows the user to move the foot rests by jumping. The bottom of the stick also features a capped rubber or plastic end, so jumping will result in an easier landing.
To use the pogo stick, you must achieve both balance and timing. When both feet have pushed the foot rests and coiled spring fully down, the spring is allowed to release by the user jumping slightly. While most beginners can achieve one jump, it does take some mastery to jump several times consecutively. It can be even more challenging with newer pogo stick styles, which allow the user to bounce several feet instead of a few inches in the air with each release of the springs. If you can get the hang of it, it can be highly entertaining, and also entertaining to watch someone else try to learn how to do it!
The pogo stick soon inspired people to set Guinness World Records of either distances traveled or consecutive jumps. In 1997, Ashrita Furman made and still holds the record for longest distance traveled on a pogo stick. In 12 hours and 21 minutes, Furman jumped 23.10 miles (37.18 km). In 1980, Gary Stewart set the current world record for most consecutive jumps on a pogo stick. In 20 hours and 20 minutes, Stewart jumped 177,737 times.
For safety purposes, even if you’re not thinking of breaking a pogo stick record, you should wear a helmet. It can hurt to fall backwards or forwards off a pogo stick. Safety gear is especially important when you use the newer high bounce models like the Flybar®.