Whether or not he looked at a common nuisance to fisherman and discovered a miracle of science or not is not clear. The fact is that that Harold von Braunhut definitely recognized a true freak of nature – and with it, one of the greatest marketing opportunities in history.
von Braunhut first came across the animal known as Artema nyos (a close relative of the brine shrimp) in 1957. He noticed that a number of the shrimp appeared dead for weeks, mysteriously came back to life when introduced to water. Seeming to defy the laws of nature, the Artema nyos actually found a protective cyst which enabled them to survive for great periods of time when their aquatic habitats dried up. A protective compound which binds to their cell protein acts as a protective shield within within which they seem to exist in a state of suspended animation. In this cyst stage, they use no energy and thus appear dead to the world. When reintroduced to water, however, they seemed to spring back to life without having suffered any kind of problem.”
von Braunhut saw a potential for offering the shrimp as pets to children which could be sold through the mail without any concern about the animals suffering due to lack of care and feeding. He introduced the shrimp to the public in 1960 in a package called “Instant Life.
Distributed by Honey Toy Industries, it became a hit after being offered through mail order in comic book advertisements costing 49 cents. The product took of in 1962 when von Braunhut referred to the shrimp as “Sea Monkeys” and began a marketing campaign which trumpeted the magnificent capabilities of the aquatic miracles. He explained that they could perform tricks, could be trained to race each other, were easy to care for – a perfect pet for youngsters.
Honey Toy, (renamed Transcience Corporation) had a huge hit on its hands and rushed Sea Monkeys to anxious families across the United States. At this point, Transcience was being approached by toy companies anxious to sell the popular Sea Monkey kit. These same toy companies had previously laughed at von Braunhut a few short years ago. With a much larger distribution system now in place, Transcience began offering Sea Monkey accessories such as “the Deluxe Sea Monkey Speedway”, “the Sea Monkey Ski Trails” and “the Sea Monkey Fox Hunt.”
In addition to their unique ability to spring back to life, the Sea Monkeys were interesting in other manner such as the fact that they are born with one eye but grow two more when they reach adulthood and that they breathe through their feet. The females of the species can reproduce both sexually and asexually.
Sea Monkeys were strange characters, indeed, seemingly not like anything seen anywhere on earth but they were marketed s cute little amazing creatures that would bring joy an happiness to anyone who owned them. For more than forty years their many fans have attested to just such a suggestion.