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Iowa History Daily: Novemeber 29 - Orville Snav & BunaB Improved No #7

Iowa History Daily: On November 29, 1954, the first advertisement for the “Improved BunaB No. 7” by Orville K. Snav and Associates ran in the Mason City newspaper. Created by American radio host Al Crowder, the BunaB was a line of purposely useless novelty products, promoted as if they were useful via carefully written marketing hype.

Crowder, a music store employee and radio host at KSMN Mason City, decided to create the BunaB after the cryptic gift of an object resembling a water jug from Crowder's father-in-law to Crowder's son inspired Crowder to write to the manufacturer, the International Latex Corporation. When the company’s response seemed nonsensical, Crowder decided to create a useless device of his own.

“(The No. 7 BunaB) will meet, or exceed specifications set up by the industry for accuracy, durability and simplicity of operation. No moving parts insures constant stability... With a minimum of practice, results equaling the conventional instrument may be expected,” read the instructions. In addition to their device, buyer’s received a registration card that, when returned to Snav Towers, automatically made the recipient an "Assistant to the President." Shortly afterwards a personal letter from Crowder would arrive, discussing in lengthy detail the difficulties that attended Snav's business empire and personal life.

Although the No. 7, an assembly of two 1 3⁄4-inch red and blue insulated wires held together with neatly applied yellow electrical tape at the ends, represented the company’s first product many others followed. A board game with unplayable rules (BunaB #2), an adhesive ‘on/off’ switch (BunaB #4), and a blank record for play while watching television (BunaB #5) all added to the line put out from Mason City’s Snav Towers and considered examples of conceptual art. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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