The Unbelievable History of Sea-Monkeys

Cornellier, Wikimedia// CC BY-SA 4.0
Cornellier, Wikimedia// CC BY-SA 4.0 / Cornellier, Wikimedia// CC BY-SA 4.0

If you're an adult of a certain age, you no doubt have fond childhood memories of Sea-Monkeys—those tiny creatures that were sold in packets and magically came to life when added to water. And from time to time, you may have even wondered what those tiny creatures (that definitely weren't monkeys) were. In fact, Sea-Monkeys were brine shrimp—a teeny crustacean that were often used to feed other fish. When inventor Harold von Braunhut happened upon some in a pet store in 1957, he was fascinated and felt convinced that the rest of the world would be, too. By the 1960s, von Braunhut had partnered with Dr. Anthony D'Agostino, a marine biologist, to figure out how to mass ship these tiny animals.

The scheme worked, and von Braunhut made millions off of his invention. But even the greatest success stories aren't always what they seem to be—and the story of the Sea-Monkey invasion went to pretty dark depths. Why? Well, it was later discovered that von Braunhut was a white supremacist who was funneling the money he made off the popular toy into an illegal gun running operation.

In this debut episode of "Throwback," we're taking a deep dive into the surprisingly controversial history of Sea-Monkey mania. You can watch the full episode below.

Be sure to head here and subscribe to check out future episodes of "Throwback," where we'll continue to explore the fascinating stories behind some of the greatest toys and trends from your childhood.