UPN Toy seen on 'Amish in the City' becomes big seller
The toy is commonly known as a gee-haw whimmy diddle.
LONG ISLAND NEWSDAY
Most guys just flex their Equinox-sculpted abs to impress onlookers. But if you're a plain person on the new UPN reality show "Amish in the City" -- in which endearing Anabaptists share a stylin' Los Angeles house with insufferable hipsters -- you bring out your Beano stick.
In the premiere episode of the reality show, we met 24-year-old Mose, a goofily gregarious Amish farmer and inventor who demonstrated a toy he made: Rubbing a propeller-topped, notched stick with a smaller stick, he said the word "Beano" to change the propeller's direction.
The Beano stick, it turns out, is an age-old folk toy known as a gee-haw whimmy diddle. (It's also called a hooey stick, whammy doodle or voodoo stick.) The "whimmy" is the notched stick with the propeller, the "diddle" is the rubbing stick, and "gee" and "haw" are commands for "right" and "left," used to guide plow-pulling horses.
"People don't order just one. We had a historical re-enactment group buy 30 of them and a physics professor buy another 30," says Karen Weppner of Family Tree Toys in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which sold out of the $4.95 gizmos last Christmas. "The novelty doesn't wear out."
Technically, the toy operates on a combination of simultaneous orthogonal oscillations. But Weppner's explanation is a little more user-friendly. "The trick is not in how it's made, it's how you hold it. Increasing and decreasing the pressure on the rubbing stick changes the direction of the spin."
Just don't expect instant results -- "it can take somebody a good while" to get the hang of it, she says. But if you get really good, there's the 24th Annual World Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle Competition on Sept. 18 near Asheville, N.C.