When Were Pool Noodles Invented?


Today’s blog post is all about a pool-time favorite: the pool noodle. It’s hard to imagine a summer by the pool or a day at the beach without these foam tubes that float, support swimmers, and can even be used as a makeshift toy sword. But, have you ever stopped to wonder when the pool noodle was invented?
This post will explore the history of the beloved pool noodle and examine the inventors who brought the noodle to life. We’ll discuss the different origins of the noodle and investigate when the first ones were made and sold. Additionally, we’ll look at the different uses of pool noodles, as well as the new innovations and designs that have been created since their inception.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of the history of the pool noodle and its evolution over time.

Rick Koster and Steve Bartman each claim to have invented the pool noodle, a bitter point of contention that stretches back to the 1980s

A common summer water toy that is bendable, buoyant, and made of polyethylene foam has caused decades of conflict between two Ontario men who each assert a different version of how it came to be.

Each Steve Hartman and Rick Koster claims to have created the pool noodle. And neither will budge from their bid for posterity.

The men claim they independently discovered the fun of using floating foam tubes in the pool in the 1980s in Oakville and Mississauga. They later briefly collaborated to produce and market the toys.

Nearly 30 years later, a number of businesses that produce millions of noodles annually manufacture the common toy that neither Koster nor Hartman were able to patent.

But the rift over the toy’s origins remains. Koster, a retired 72-year-old who believes he was wrongfully disinherited as the creator of the toy he calls the Water Woggle, is on one side. Hartman, the CEO of a Brampton company that has been producing pool noodles for decades, also wants to defend his family’s name and his company’s reputation against Koster’s allegations.


Koster claims that “they took (my) concept, saw its success, and wanted to capitalize on it.” “I want the truth to be told. ”.

Hartman responds, “For some reason he thinks he invented the foam rod.” “We were already producing them for use in swimming pools.” ”.

When Hartman and his father founded Industrial Thermo Polymers (ITP) in 1980, they believe that this was the beginning of the pool noodle. They began producing backer rods, a soft foam tube used, among other things, in expansion joints in buildings and on roads.

According to Hartman, it didn’t take long for someone to throw one of the rods into the family pool. Every time someone jumped into the pool, it seemed like someone snatched one of these. ”.

They quickly realized they might have something valuable, and selling them “wasn’t a leap,” according to Hartman,

Beginning with his competitive swimmer children who encouraged him to experiment with floating toys, Koster’s invention story Koster had a number of floating noodle designs by 1986, but he finally settled on the “Water Woggle,” which was initially a white foam serpent with taped-on multicolored spots and stripes as well as a foam head.

He started working on promotional material and visiting trade shows. Koster claims there are old photos of him grinning with crates of Woggles. The serpent head from the prototypes was soon abandoned in favor of the long, cylindrical foam tube that is known as the traditional pool noodle.

Terry Martyniuk, owner of Pioneer Family Pools, which began selling Koster’s Woggles around 1986–1987, says, “I had never seen anything like it.” “It was amazing. Everyone who entered the shop desired two or three of them. ”.

Martyniuk doesn’t remember ITP pool noodles being available at the time.

Hartman claims that he hasn’t kept records of his business from that time, in contrast to Koster, who has dated invoices, documents, and promotional materials for his Woggles. He also claims that because it was 30 years ago that he can’t remember which stores carried his product at the time.

However, he insists that before he even met Koster, when the conflict between the competing noodle inventors began to take shape, he was already selling foam pool noodles in a variety of colors.

When Koster approached ITP to mass produce his Water Woggles in 1990, he claims that is when they first collaborated. Koster and Hartman both claim that the collaboration lasted for a number of months before it broke down due to a dispute that they each describe differently.

According to Hartman’s memory, his business signed a contract with Koster to produce Water Woggles, which he describes as a “sea serpent/monster thing” made of foam tubes. Koster allegedly abandoned the agreement when he learned that ITP was already selling pool noodles, according to Hartman.

According to Hartman, “He made a leap and felt that what we were already doing violated this agreement.”

After rejecting a “lowball” offer from a retailer to stock Woggles, Koster claims ITP betrayed him. Before he knew it, Koster claims he discovered a group of pool noodles that were being shipped to the retailer for sale when reviewing an order intended for other stores. Koster describes the group of pool noodles as being identical to his Woggle.

He left and then filed a lawsuit against Hartman for allegedly stealing his concept, but he claims he eventually dropped the case because he couldn’t afford the legal costs and not because he gave up.

Hartman begs to differ. “He knew he was wrong and ran. ”.

Pool noodles would quickly become a popular summertime toy, predicts Jamie O’Rourke, a businessman from Tennessee who sold millions of “Funnoodles” between 1994 and 1998.

“There was nothing proprietary to it. Nobody had a patent on it,” he says.

Although Hartman claims he is not concerned with receiving credit for creating the pool noodle, Koster has been bothered for years by a sense of being overlooked. He even attempted to process what had happened and move on by writing an unpublished book about it.

“You notice your product protruding from a car’s roof.” Kids going to the beach, having fun,” he says. “It’s like Groundhog Day every summer. ”.

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The likelihood is that if you have ever spent time near an inground pool, you have seen them. They have one of the most straightforward designs imaginable, are brightly colored, and encourage fun activity. They are pool noodles, and their fascinating history This article from Marketplace tells the tale of the man who created this distinctive and well-known pool toy.

But then a funny thing happened. The noodles were purchased by Canadian Tire, a company that sells a variety of goods, and their price was set low enough to attract customers.

Thirty years ago, when Hartman first started his business with his father in Toronto, Canada, he created the pool noodle.

“Well, you float around with them, you hit your brother with them, we said,” ’ It was a tough sell,” Hartman says.

Hartman therefore attempted to sell them to a few of the neighborhood pool supply stores after blending a batch with color. There was only one issue: What are you supposed to do with these?


Most likely, you are unaware of Steve Hartman and what a backer rod is. You probably use the backer rod every summer, thanks to Hartman, the current CEO and president of Industrial Thermal Polymers in Toronto, Canada, and his father.

On a show produced by Kai Ryssdal on Marketplace called “Brought to You By,” Hartman talks about how he and his father joined forces to start a plastics company back in 1980. Soon after, Industrial Thermo Polymers began manufacturing backer rods which are used in expansion joints in skyscrapers. Like any prolific invention, it started off as something else entirely. The gray 9-foot rods were always around the office and a few of them inevitably ended up at Hartman’s father’s swimming pool.

The creator of the pool noodle claimed, “It seemed like every time we jumped in the pool, we were playing with these things. ”.

The father-son team decided to add color to them in order to increase their marketability after realizing their appeal. Initially, it was difficult to find someone who would buy pool noodles, and when a store did try to sell them, it was typically at an inappropriate price (say, $15 in the 1990s!)

Put simply by Hartman, “it was a tough sell.”

It was so difficult that the Hartmans never thought to patent the pool noodle. According to how patents operate, you have one year from the time a product is displayed to the public to file a patent. No one is buying them, so what’s the point of filing a patent?, we reasoned. Therefore, the ITP was never granted the sole right to the invention.

Eventually, Canadian Tire, a company that sells all kinds of oddities, decided to carry the product and priced it appropriately to encourage more impulse purchases. Even without a patent, the pool noodle took off. Currently, ITP’s pool noodles account for 50% of all pool noodles sold in North America.

Hartman estimates his company produces 6-8 million pool noodles annually. “We’re certainly the largest single producer in North America. ”.

After working together for more than 20 years, Steve Hartman suddenly lost his father in 2002. Pool noodles will serve as a constant reminder of the good times they shared, which evolved into something much greater than either of them could have imagined.

Many people questioned how we managed to collaborate for 22 years, Steve recalled. I added that he resembled my best friend more than my father. ”.


Who invented the pool noodles?

Steve Hartman is the president and CEO of Industrial Thermal Polymers, but he also has another claim to fame: He was the one who first realized that colorful foam tubes make a pretty entertaining pool toy. Thirty years ago, when Hartman first started his business with his father in Toronto, Canada, he created the pool noodle.

Why is there a hole in pool noodles?

For Making Connections. REASON SIX: The holes in pool noodles allow them to connect to other noodles. Try This: Use a connector, such as a noodle rope or these stylish connectors, to join several pool noodles together. You can construct mazes, hoops for basketball, and anything else that your imagination will allow.

Who invented the styrofoam noodle?

Pool noodles are credited to two men: fellow Canadian Richard Koster, who developed the Water Woggle, and Steve Hartman, the CEO and president of Industrial Thermal Polymers.

Do pool noodles keep you afloat?

Advantages of Swimming Noodles They float very well. Adults can float upright in the water on just one noodle without having to move their arms or legs. They are quite flexible, leading to lots of different uses.

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