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What's a Dribble Glass, Anyway?

The Dribble Glass in Dribbleglass.com refers to the classic gag item invented by prankster (and businessman) S.S. Adams (or Samuel Adams, no relation to the beer). If you don't know what a Dribble Glass is, it's like saying you don't know what a rubber chicken is...or a joy buzzer! If laughter is the best medicine, the Dribble Glass is penicillin!

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dribbleglass-2.jpg (24446 bytes)A Dribble Glass (pictured at left) looks like an ordinary juice glass with some fancy-schmancy designs etched into it. Adams came up with the idea to craft the glass so that nearly invisible slits are camouflaged by the design--and the slits allow liquid in the glass to dribble down an unsuspecting victim's hand and arm. Ingenious, and a classic comic gag.

Not only did Adams invent the Dribble Glass, but he also invented about 700 of the most revered gag, prank and joke items of all time. Adams' inventions are responsible for evoking laughter all around the world. Adams' biggest gag hits included itching powder, sneezing powder, invisible ink, the bug in a plastic ice cube gag, the squirting lapel flower and many, many others.

Want to know why a Dribble Glass wouldn't work in space? Click here.

There's lots of great information about innovative capitalist S.S. Adams on the Web site of the company named after him--a company still cranking out crank items to this day. Check out www.ssadams.com.

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The astonishing S. S. Adams, demonstrating one of his comedic inventions, the "Suction Cupped Plate."


The following is an excerpt from the "Saturday Evening Post" (June 1, 1946)

"The Jumping Snakes of S.S. Adams"

By Maurice Zolotow

The future Ford of foolery was born Soren Sorenson Adams in Aarhus, Denmark, in 1869. His father was a sabot maker, who moved to Perth Amboy, New Jersey, when Sam--as he has always been called--was two years old. Sam never attended high school. In public school he was a mischievous boy, but probably no more so than the average boy. He put salt in the sugar bowl and pulled chairs out when people prepared to sit down. At twelve he went to work as a printer's devil for the "Middlesex Democrat," a weekly paper published in Plainfield, New Jersey. He received one dollar a week. In his spare time he studied the art of pool, and became so competent that he took up pool playing as a livelihood and made a nice income on side bets.

He then discovered that he had a flair for shooting, and he took up trapshooting professionally and, for years, entered competitions all over the country. Between meets, he was a picture frame salesman. In 1904, he shot 97 out of 100 at the Grand American Handicap in Indianapolis. This year was also significant as marking his first budding as a practical joker. He had always loved a little joke, and frequently gave out iron cigars and exploding cigars, which were then sold as a sideline by postcard and novelty shops at resort towns. Once, when he was courting a girl, he placed an imitation tin fly in her soup; the girl didn't see the humor of it and broke off their relationship.

In 1904 he was a salesman for a dye company, one of whose products was a German coal-tar derivative with which the firm had been having difficulty, as the people who processed it found it made them sneeze. At great expense, Sam's company extracted the sneezing ingredient. They had barrels of the ingredient lying around and one day Sam took some of the powder, a murky grayish stuff, and placed it in a bottle. The next time he saw a chance he placed some powder on the back of his hand and blew it into a roomful of people. The resulting consternation made him laugh his head off. After that, he was never without some sneezing powder, and soon friends began asking him for the powder.

It occurred to him that there were commercial possibilities in all this.

When he became dissatisfied with a hotel he was operating in York, Pennsylvania, he sold out his half interest to a partner for $1,500 and set himself up as the Cachoo Sneeze Powder Company, in a one-room office and factory in an office building in Plainfield. He soon changed the firm name to S. S. Adams and Company, as the makers of bottles and corks were wary of extending credit to anything as bizarre as the Cachoo Sneeze Powder Company. At first, Adams did all the work himself. A chemist in Newark refined the powder for him. To this day, Adams is secretively mysterious about the name of the coal-tar dye or the identity of the powder. Adams himself poured it into bottles, corked it, packaged it and went out to sell it to novelty shops. Finally, George Zorn, of Philadelphia, who retails paper hats and noise makers for parties, ordered several gross, and, when they moved quickly, he ordered 50,000 bottles of Cachoo. The first year Adams sold $15,000 worth of Cachoo.

Cachoo became a national craze. Church services, school sessions, theater performances and political meetings were thrown into disorder by clouds of sneezing powder. Newspapers wrote editorials against it. Fights in saloons started as a result of it. The mucous membranes in the noses of thousands of Americans were badly irritated as a result of too much Cachoo.

Adams followed up Cachoo with a Shooting Cigarette Box and a Shooting Book, the latter bearing a deceptive cover reading: A Night in Paris.

The following year he was out with the Dribble Glass.

The year 1910 was chiefly important for his discovery of jumping-snake items. His first snake whimsy was a three-foot serpent in a jar of jam. He developed a reddish preparation which, when mixed with birdseed and painted around the inside of a jar, perfectly resembled the look of strawberry jam.

The snakes are currently five feet long, and constructed of springs encased in green cambric, and you can buy them not only compressed inside of jam jars but also in cold-cream jars, cigar lighters, jewel boxes, in a book with the title "What I Know About Women," in a can of nuts, and even in a screw-top fountain pen.

Around Asbury Park, Adams has the reputation of being a solid, respectable, slightly stuffy person who is almost never hilarious, jocular or prankish. "If you met Adams for the first time," an acquaintance says, "you would never take him for a manufacturer of sneezing powder and jumping snakes."

Adams leads a conventional life playing contract bridge twice a week and fishing or hunting whenever he has a chance. He is president of the Wheelmen's Club, of Asbury Park, the oldest men's group in the city, and he is also president of the Turtle Cove Gun Club, whose members shoot waterfowl at Barnegat Bay each autumn. In the winter he shoots in North Carolina in the summer he fishes in Virginia.

Adams lives alone in a small four-room apartment. There are no collapsing chairs or exploding books around the place, which is furnished modestly with Grand Rapids non-shooting furniture. There is a little balcony outside his living room. During the lateSunday afternoons, in warm weather, Adams likes to stand on the balcony and take the air. From where he stands, be can see boardwalk and the ocean, and watch the bathers disporting on the beach.

"It gave me an idea," he says, "upon which I have been expending a deal of thought--a bathing suit made of a material that would disintegrate when the victim went into the water. Can't you just picture the look of surprise on their faces? Boy, it sure would be a darn funny joke novelty, but haven't perfected it. However, I am still working on the idea."

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