Thursday, December 30, 2010

The bendaroos of 2010

Each year at Christmas there is some 'new' something or other that is introduced that kids totally want and parents cringe and hide from.

 Enter Orbeez.
 Two years ago at the air show there was a vendor who was selling these teeny tiny hard balls that when placed in water swell up into marbleish sized jelly balls.  They were squishy and wet and cool to feel- and the kids wanted them BAD.  But they were vase fillers for cut flowers.  And they were sold like 3000 to a tiny bag for $4.  Good deal?  Yes.  Mess? Yes.  We said no.  I was worried about chemicals and contaminants and wondered about the kids pawing them and then absorbing whatever it was that made them what they were.
 Someone got their thinking cap on and brought out the exact same item- only marketed as a toy.  This time- 1000 for $7.  Wish I would have put on my fancy cap- sounds like a heck of a profit.
 'Orbeez are superabsorbent polymers.  A polymer is a large molecule consisting of many smaller molecules, which are joined together.  They are classified as superabsorbent because they can absorb up to 150 times their own volume in water.  The water is absorbed into the spaces between the molecules.  These polymers were invented for agricultural use to irrigate plants during times of drought.  Today they are used, among other things, in food packages to absorb liquid and in diapers to prevent leaks.  Do not eat Orbeez.'
 Pour your little bitty tiny hard balls into water.  They get all fuzzy and cool looking as they swell up.  And in 3 hours or so you have a jelly ball that bounces.  And fall off the counter.  And roll all over the floor.  And 'pop' when you step on them.  I have picked up HUNDREDS of orbeez in the past 3 days. (And yes- that is Aqua Sand you see in the background.  I'm a glutten for punishment.)
 The thing that I really do find amazing is that if you leave them out of the water- they really do shrink back down into a teeny tiny hard ball (think cookie sprinkle with me folks).
Here they are in various stages of growing and shrinking.  Tell me you don't just want to touch them.  Tell me you aren't plotting how to get your own bag at the store?  I know you are.

Sad thing is I just have this urge to fill the bathtub with them and jump in.  I also have the desire for Jello every time I touch them.  But don't eat Orbeez.  Although wouldn't it be interesting to swallow a handful of the dried pellety ones and see what happens?  In theory.  Not that I'm going to give it a whirl or anything.

After all- every single piece of everything that came with them with the exception of having it stamped onto each and every tiny ball says NOT to eat them.  But if one did- there is a special page in the book to take to the hospital with you that tells them what it is and how it works.
Good to know.

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