25 Most Nostalgic, Popular, And Useless Novelty Items Ever

Posted by , Updated on February 14, 2024

Novelty items, by definition, are an object that serves absolutely no practical purpose whatsoever. Typically, they are only sold because of their uniqueness or just for the humor factor, although they can also be sold as “something new,” hence the term “novelty.”

There are some objects that start out being novelty, like frisbees and hula hoops, only to later move out of the “novelty” market and into the established, commonly used goods market later on. There are even food items that are described as novelty items when they first come out, like Deep Fried Mars Bars.

The earliest recorded reference to novelty items was by French mathematician Pierre Hérigone. In the early 1600’s he invented a goblet that let you spy on people while drinking (via a mirror). The most popular novelty item in recent history was Big Mouth Billy Bass and between 2000 and 2001 it is estimated that nearly 20 million pieces were sold.

So even if you have never bought these types of items or don’t even plan to buy any in the future, we are sure that you will find it entertaining to see what sort of novelty items other people are buying. These are the 25 most nostalgic, popular, and useless novelty items ever!


Umbrella hat

Umbrella hatSource: wikipedia, Image: mikebaird via flickr

You definitely don’t wear this as a fashion statement.


Dehydrated water

Dehydrated waterSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Sold by Bernard Food Indrustries, these are basically empty cans with the words “Bernard Dehydrated Water” on the side.


Toffee hammers

Toffee hammersSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Apparently you’re supposed to break up sheets or slabs of hard toffee into smaller pieces for consumption. This is assuming, of course, that you somehow managed to acquire an over-sized slab of toffee.


Radio hat

Radio hatSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Like the umbrella hat, this probably wouldn’t help you win any fashion contests, but at least you can listen to your favorite tunes.


Groucho glasses

Groucho glassesSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Possibly one of the most iconic and widely used novelty item, groucho glasses were first marketed in the 1940’s.


Plastic flamingos

Plastic flamingosSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Possibly the most famous lawn ornament in the United States, they were designed in 1957 by Don Featherstone and have become an icon of pop culture. They even won him an Ig Nobel Prize in 1996.


Big Mouth Billy Bass

Big Mouth Billy BassSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

This animatronic singing fish was made popular in the 2000’s and has since made several television and movie appearances.


Magic 8-Ball

Magic 8-BallSource: wikipedia, Image: photomequickbooth via flickr

Developed in the 1950’s, we can only guess how many important decisions were influenced by this silly toy.


Mexican Jumping Bean

Mexican Jumping BeanSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Basically seed pods that have been inhabited by the larva of a small moth, jumping beans will actually jump when heated (held in your hand) because the larva spasms. Just don’t eat the beans.


Garden Gnome

Garden GnomeSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Originating in 19th century Germany, these little bearded garden dwellers have become the definition of kitsch novelty items.


Horse head mask

Horse head maskSource: wikipedia, Image: amazon.com

Originally sold as a novelty Halloween costume in 2003 by Archie McPhee. They claimed that a person wearing a horse head mask “looks downright disturbing.” Today, however, it has made the transition from novelty item to meme.



ZudirkSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

This board game was part of the BunaB novelty products line that were manufactured starting in the 1950’s. It had unplayable rules.


Bubble pipe

Bubble pipeSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Patented in 1918, these were one of the first mass productions of bubble blowers.


Deely Bobber

Deely BobberSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Invented in 1981 by Stephen Askin, these novelty headbands are a common party favor today.


Chattery teeth

Chattery teethSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Originally called “Yakkity Yak Talking Teeth” when they were released in 1949. All you have to do is wind them up and watch them clang together.



SquirmieSource: wikipedia, Image: alibaba.com

Also called magic worms, these little furry creatures have a string attached to them which you can pull on and make the worm look alive.


Expandable water toy

Expandable water toySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Following the development of superabsorbent polymers, these toys became a novelty hit. They will expand up to 500% after being placed in water for several days.



BobbleheadSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

What list of novelty items would be complete without the ubiquitous bobblehead?


Lava lamp

Lava lampSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Developed in 1963 by a British accountant, these novelty items have become a staple of college dorm rooms everywhere.


X-Ray Specs

X-Ray SpecsSource: wikipedia, Image: zymetrical via flickr

Long sold under the slogan “See the bones in your hand, see through clothes!” these typically over-sized glasses have become a well known novelty item. And no, they don’t actually let you see through anything, but the mechanism by which they create their simplistic illusion has actually been patented!


Sea Monkeys

Sea MonkeysSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

A brand name for brine shrimp that seem to come to life just by adding water, sea monkey’s have even been taken to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery!


Propeller beanie

Propeller beanieSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

These days, computer nerds are sometimes referred to as propellerheads thanks to the former popularity of this novelty hat.


Chinese finger trap

Chinese finger trapSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Do you remember this? You stick your fingers in it and as soon as you try to take them out the trap tightens. Not very useful, but funny.


Pet rock

Pet rockSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

Ever since its conception by Gary Dahl in 1975, pet rocks have made the ideal pet. No need to feed, walk, bathe, or groom them. They don’t die, get sick, or disobey either.


The Useless Machine

The Useless MachineSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia

These come in all shapes and sizes, but the best are the one’s that only have an off button.