Clackers were a sadistic toy that became popular in the early 1970s, if memory serves. During the peak years of my childhood growing up here at the Manse, in other words. Every household with kids had them; I think they were popular enough that they might even have been sold at Queensborough’s two general stores. They were good clean inexpensive fun. But stupid!
Why stupid? And why sadistic? Well, here’s a post on an entertaining Facebook group to which I subscribe, called 1960’s and 1970’s Advertisements (never mind that the apostrophes are in the wrong place, she says, donning her editor’s hat) by one Kurt X Fischer that explains it quite well:
Today’s fun toy from our Lacerations Department is the infamous Clackers. These hard acrylic orbs were popular on school grounds and were bought in the millions by kids of all ages. The only issue they had, other than thousands of bruises, was the high speed orbs would shatter, sending very sharp high-velocity shards of Chinese plastic through the air, possibly blinding anyone within 30 yards.
That about sums it up, Kurt; thanks! Yeah, the story about Clackers – which I think may have been an urban legend, because neither I nor anyone I know ever saw it happen – was that the brightly coloured acrylic orbs would sometimes shatter, sending dangerous shards every which way, notably toward nearby pairs of eyes. But a far more real and present Clackers danger was the bruises that Kurt mentions: you could clack away at those suckers for maybe 30 seconds at a time, but eventually you’d lose the rhythm and they’d lose their trajectory and one of those hard acrylic orbs would slam into your wristbone at high velocity.
And you’d say, “Ow!” And then you’d say to yourself, “I’m never doing that again.” But everybody around you would be clacking their Clackers, and those orbs in motion were such interesting-looking (and -sounding) things, and… you couldn’t resist. You’d try it again. And bruise your wrist again. And again. And again.
Man, were we dopey!