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!
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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!