Today we have a little yellow duck, which became a bit of cultural icon with the help of Ernie from Sesame Street and his signature song, “Rubber Duckie.” It actually reached number 16 on Billboard’s “Hot 100 Singles” list in 1970 and was even nominated for a Grammy award. The song was ridiculously catchy fun for little kids, like myself, to sing constantly until told to leave the room. For anyone who missed this piece of music history, Ernie sings the song in a bathtub to his duck. It’s an incredibly short song with lines like “when I squeeze you, you make noise” and delicious rhymes like “I find a little fellow who’s cute and yellow and chubby, rub a dub dubby.” Though light on lyrics, not many kids knew all the words so they would just repeat the first couple of lines over and over again making the song even more irritating. But the popularity of the song did serve to make rubber ducks the must-have bathtub toy for generations.

But these little guys aren’t just for kids as there are also people who collect them. In 1996, Charlotte Lee began collecting different versions of the iconic duck and now has over 5,600 different ducks adorning the shelves of the glass cases in her dedicated duck room. This, thankfully, earned her the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of rubber ducks. To truly enjoy them of course, she’d have to take them to Mumbai, India which boasts the World’s Largest Bathtub. As well as collector’s, many artists over the years have fallen for the lure of this duck. Gigantic floating rubber duck sculptures designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman have been spotted floating in rivers all across the world. This and many other reasons make this clearly the most celebrated and famous bath toy on the planet.

But for me, it was all about Ernie’s love song. Without that, it would have just been an odd-shaped yellow duck that squeaked when you grabbed it. The idea of singing your devotion to a rubber toy of any kind is absolutely ridiculous. And that’s exactly what made it perfectly awesome! It was so dumb that it made me giggle every time. And so memorable that I can still remember singing along. Not many things in life have that kind of impact and seeing a rubber duck still makes me smile. Whether it’s the size of a small building or just the simple little version I had as a child. Perhaps there will one day be a new iconic bath toy to win the hearts of people everywhere, but for today at least, Rubber Duckie, you’re the one! 

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Red Orange, Sennelier Red, Indian Yellow, Dioxazine Purple, Phthalocyanine Blue, and Ultramarine Deep. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink and second pen with a bit of blue ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
Day 12 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Rubber Duckie Rubber Ducky Duck in blue water Ernie
Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

25 replies on “Rubber Duckie, You’re The One

  1. I love the rubber duckie Charlie! My son was such a loyal fan of Bert and Ernie when he was growing up, and I think that song is embedded in my mind forever! I’ve been wanting to ask you if the Sennelier colors you use are tube paints or one of the pan sets? I’ve never used Sennelier before, but I’ve seen a lot of good reviews and I know the pan set of 12 plus 6 free is on sale at some of the art stores. I’m just wondering what to get. Can you let me know? And again, thanks for the memories of the “Rubber Duckie.” Sharon

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Sharon! Happy this one brought back good memories! 😃💕 As for Sennelier, I had some of the tube paints that I used last summer, but I’m currently using a pan set I picked up in Paris. I love the little tin it comes in, but have to say I still prefer tube paints so I’ll be refilling this with those! But I love this paint… it’s honey based like the M. Graham paints I started with and the colors are really rich. I think they’re my favorite so far!

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      1. Thanks Charlie, that’s good to know about the pan set versus the tube paints. I may still go ahead and get the pan set just to try and see how I like it, especially since it’s such a good buy right now. Yes, I have heard a lot of good reviews about M Graham paints, and I guess it’s due to the fact that it’s got the honey base, so if the Sennelier tubes have the honey base, I can see why you like them so much. Thanks again Charlie for your posts, I always enjoy reading them. Have a good night. Sharon

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      2. Thanks, yes, definitely try the pans. The only thing I’ve discovered is that if I want really saturated color it takes an extra little wash. Other than that, they’re really similar to the tubes and an excellent paint! Have a wonderful night!

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  2. What a really sweet post, Charlie. My kids had a few rubber ducks but they liked boats in the bath better. I hope rubber duckie fans see your post – they can add it to their collections. And your portrait does him justice – he looks happy and bright, floating on the watery memories of people everywhere who love them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love it, Erne and Bert, what a pair 😀 I think every bathroom should have homed a rubber duckie once in their life, even if for a short period. I have a pink radio version in my bathroom, it can float, but it’s not soft and squidgy! I do prefer the iconic yellow like yours. I do remember the craze for the decorated rubber duckies, some quite rare, fetching high prices, thanks Charlie.

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  4. I remember singing that silly song with my kids. And playing with a rubber ducky with them in the bathtub. My son’s first spoken word was “quack.” Actually was more like “cack cack.” (He is 19 now.) It was funny that you mentioned it, because they still make me smile when I see one too!

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