What is Fonging?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Fonging is an activity which involves attaching strings to a loose oven rack, wrapping the strings around one's fingers, inserting the fingers into one's ears, and then inviting others to strike the oven rack with various implements. The sounds will resonate inside the ears, sometimes creating very unusual or interesting noises, and the ludicrousness of the activity can strengthen the bonds between friends. The point of fonging is to emphasize the hilarious nature of life, bringing levity to situations where it might be sorely needed.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

According to Fonging for the Soul, the 2005 book which introduced fonging to the world, the concept of fonging was brought to the author in a dream by an angel. The angel allegedly claimed that “hilarity is sacred,” and explained the fonging technique.

While the above story rests on shaky ground, the history of making unusual musical instruments from available supplies is actually quite old. Many random household objects can be turned into instruments by people with creativity and ingenuity, and musicians have often made do with very peculiar objects to stand in for more conventional instruments in a pinch. Oven racks often have excellent resonant qualities, so one can clearly see the potential, angels or not.

As you may have noticed if you have ever removed your oven rack for cleaning, when the oven rack is struck with something, it can chime in interesting ways as the sound travels across the rack. Usually the sound is too quiet to really be heard, which is why strings are necessary for fonging; the strings act as crude amplifiers plugged directly into the ears, transmitting the sound to the listener.

The act of fonging is supposed to be preposterous, and most fonging sessions will end up in laughter as people succumb to the absurdity of hitting an oven rack connected to someone's ears with string. People generally take turns, giving everyone a chance to hear the sound. A wide variety of objects such as chopsticks, brushes, spoons, and so forth can be employed at a fonging party.

While fonging can be fun, it can also be dangerous. Until you have experienced it for yourself, you might not be aware of how well the sound waves travel. The oven rack should be touched gently, as harsh clangs and other sharp sounds can actually damage the ears, or at least generate a brief and unpleasant ringing sensation. If someone complains that the noise is too intense or too loud, participants should go lightly to keep the experience enjoyable.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon19508

Unfortunate for the author [of the book] ... but his "angel" was a little late on the scene ... fonging was a widespread activity for those of us who enjoyed various recreational drugs back in the 60's.

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