Popperknockers. We loved ’em, we just didn’t know what to call them. They were officially known as “Klackers,” but most of us who carried the noisy, infernal, dangerous things around made up our own names, some a bit on the racy side. I preferred popperknockers.
According to Wikipedia, other names included Klick-Klacks, Whackers, Ker-Knockers, Whack’os, Bangers, Poppers, Knockers, Bonkers, Clackers, Clack Clacks, Crackers, K-Nokkers, Knockers, Mini Poppers, Popper Knockers, Rockers, Super Clackers, Quick Klacks, Quick Clacks, Quick Wacks, Wackers, Whak Kos, and Zonkers. Yeesh!
Their premise was the height of simplicity. Two acrylic spheres on a piece of string with a plastic handle located in the middle. They hung straight down, and upward and downward motions of your hand made them pop into each other, making one of the most familiar sound heard in the 60’s and 70’s.
They came with an instruction sheet, but there wasn’t a whole lot of technique involved. Sure, you could do the razzle-dazzle stuff like reach back between your legs and do 180 pops, aka the surfer, of move 180 pops around in a big vertical circle, aka orbiting around the world, but for the most part, we pacifists used them as therapy. The steady pop-pop-pop assured us that all was well, and we walked around the streets and hallways (until they were ultimately banned from school) producing the soothing cadence.
Of course, not all popperknocker owners were so peaceful. Bullies relished the toys as weapons. Many a fat or skinny kid suffered black eyes or bruises at the wrong end of the plastic orbs.
Thus, they were eventually removed from all of our hands. In today’s society where every item we buy comes with a warning label designed to keep drooling morons from injuring themselves with, say, a roll of toilet paper, the idea of heavy hard balls suspended on a string seems ridiculous, particularly in the hands of children.
Too bad. We stressed-out, overworked Boomers could sure use a reassuring pop-pop-pop to tell us that all is still well.