Radio Hat

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

The Radio Hat was a portable radio built into a pith helmet that would bring in stations within a 20 mile (32km) radius. It was introduced in early 1949 for $7. 95 as the `Man-from-Mars Radio Hat. ` [1] Thanks to a successful publicity campaign, the Radio Hat was sold at stores from coast to coast in the United States. The Radio Hat was manufactured

Radio Hat
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by American Merri-Lei Corporation of Brooklyn N. Y. The company was a leading supplier of party hats, noise makers and other novelty items. Its founder, Victor Hoeflich, had invented a machine to make paper Hawaiian leis while still in high-school (1914), and by 1949 the company shipped millions of leis to Hawaii each year. An inventor and gadgeteer, [2] [3] [4] Hoeflich continued to develop and even sell machinery that manufactured paper novelty items. [5] [6] Battery-operated portable radios had been available for many years, but Hoeflich hoped a radio with innovative packaging and a publicity campaign could be a runaway success. The transistor had just been invented, but was still an expensive laboratory curiosity; the first pocket transistor radio was still 5 years away. This radio would have to use the existing vacuum tube technology and the tubes would be a prominent design feature. The loop antenna and the tuning knob were also visible. The hat was available in eight colors: Lipstick Red, Tangerine, Flamingo, Canary Yellow, Chartreuse, Blush Pink, Rose Pink and Tan. [7] [8] In March 1949, Victor Hoeflich held a press conference to introduce the "Man from Mars, Radio Hat". Hoeflich knew a picture would tell the story so he had several teenagers modeling the Radio Hats for the reporters and photographers. Soon pictures and news stories appeared in newspapers coast to coast. [9] [10] The articles typically included a...

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