In 1947 Kix cereal offered a premium that no kid could refuse. For 15 cents and a single box top, you could get a Lone Ranger Atomic Bomb Ring with a cute little atomic bomb on it. As a little kid, you weren’t just wearing an atomic bomb on your finger either, it was filled with polonium! If you removed the tail portion of the bomb you could look through a screen (when the ring was new) and watch tiny flashes of light as the polonium decayed.
As cool as the ring must have been for children in the post war era, it seems a bit odd today, at least to me. The ring was issued just two years after the US government vaporized 200,000 Japanese citizens with a couple atomic bombs. There’s evidence that says that by doing so the US army actually saved lives and that without doing so, collateral losses would have exceeded the number killed by the bomb….so anyway, I’m not going to debate the choice to use the bomb.
What I am going to do though, is question the choices of toy manufacturers to capitalize on hundreds of thousands of deaths. Stop for a moment and image in the uproar that a similar ring depicting airplanes flying into buildings worn by middle eastern children would have made two years after September 11th, 2001. Today there’s a constant debate about violent video games and whether they desensitize children to violence, yet in the forties it seemed OK to glorify something that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Here are a couple more atomic bomb influenced toys of the 1940’s…