Just let that sink in for a minute, because it is a real thing.
So the sea-monkeys themselves aren't racist (can you imagine little shrimp trying to 'heil'? Adorable and horrible at the same time) but their inventor seemed to be.
Harold von Braunhut was an inventor and brilliant marketer. He created X-Ray Specs, mail-in hermit crabs, the self-closing doll eyes and the aforementioned Sea Monkeys. Born in 1926, he was actually "Harold Braunhut", adding the "von" while living in New York City in the 50's. More on that later...
He loved car racing (racing under the name The Green Hornet in his youth) and he loved animals. So much so, he began experimenting with a kind of shrimp that can sustain in a suspended animation. (Cause that's facinating, right? I thought suspended animation was just from sci-fi movies but many animals possess this ability.) He started cross breeding to create hardier breeds of shrimp to survive the mailing process and live longer in their tanks.
Sea Monkeys were invented in 1957, a year after the ant farm became popular in the United States. I think we've all seen the illustration in the back of comics and such featuring the happy Sea
Monkey family. They are actually brine shrimp eggs that when added to water hatch and the creatures live off yeast and spiralina packets.
Innocent fun. Harold also invented another fun toy, the Kiyoga. Basically, a spring loaded baton originally marketed for ladies defense.
It found another core audience later... With a marketing campaign that started with "If you need a gun and can't get a license..." Ummm, why wouldn't I be able to get a license? Maybe cause I'm a domestic abuser, felon, metally ill...
"So get to the damn point! Stop with all the cloak and dagger!", you say.
Alrighty... The sweet, kooky inventor loved cars and animals... and the Aryan Brotherhood. Yep. He was a big ol' Nazi-lover. In 2000, Tomar Brott wrote an article for the LA Times (The Sea Monkeys and the White Supremacist) with his findings. This wasn't the first article outing. The above photo of the ad for the Kiyoga was found in a lovely little rag of filth known as "Aryan Nations", a white supremacy magazine owned by Richard Butler.
I have to say, growing up in the south, Richard Butler was always the butt of the joke yet filled me with shame/fear/sadness for the hate he spouted in the 80's. When he was indited for a plot to overthrow the government, he sent out a letter to his 'brothers' that everyone should buy a Kiyoga because the “manufacturer has made a pledge of $25 to my defense fund for each one sold to Aryan Nations supporters.” Harold just so happened to be that guy. When Butler's wife died in 1995, Harold presided over the funeral. They were tight, these two.
There a photos of Mr. von Braunhut standing in from of a giant swastika, tales of him lighting crosses at Aryan gatherings and had made several bat-shit crazy statements about agreeing with Butler who said that Jews are direct descendants of the Devil. (Soooooo the real, live, red devil demon creature himself at some point in human history gave birth or perhaps just went 'poof!' and a particular person appeared here on earth who begat and begat and they became the Jews? I think they were reading some kind of fantasy novel and got confused...)
Now here's the kicker. Wait for it... Harold was a Jew. The "von" in "von Braunhut" was to make his name sound more German. He grew up in Brighton Beach, which at the time was a 'Jewish neighborhood'. His parents are buried in a Jewish cemetery. I... I can't even wrap my brain around this...
|"I'm racist, Jewish and one suave motherfucker!"|
I don't know what is more flabbergasting: The fact the Harold was a self-hating Jew surrounded by Neo-Nazis or that the Aryan Nation was like, "Whatever. Cha-Ch$ng!" Money talks, I guess, so you could be anyone or anything as long you gave up enough cash.
Harold von Braunhut died in 2003 at age 77 and we're all left shaking our heads and wondering a simple, "what the fuck?"