Lawn darts were a big part of our childhood, but now they are really hard to find - at least the kind we remember. Rumors have always been swirling about why the popular toy was banned, with some people saying that it was actually because a child died.
It's hard to believe that a children's toy would have been made if it could harm a child, so a lot of people just push this rumor aside as merely a scare tactic. However, it is actually true.
The FDA had banned the sale of lawn darts as a toy in 1976, but because of a loophole in the system they could still sell them to adults. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said that they weren't allowed to be in the toy sections of stores, but as long as they had a warning on the box that it was intended for adults it could be sold at sporting goods stores.
In 1987, David Snow started a campaign to end the sale of lawn darts after his own 7-year-old daughter, Michelle, died when a dart penetrated her skull.
He criticized the guidelines, saying that they weren't strict enough. "We’re talking a three-foot high box with a little tiny warning. I mean, there’s something in that box that can be fatal. That’s what my anger is — because I know what happened, I didn’t see the warning and my child is now dead. Because if I had seen that warning, I would have never brought this product home."
After the campaign gained some traction, the government had to react...
Snow got a lot of support for his campaign against lawn darts. The CPSC endeed up banning the products completely. They released a statement at the time that said "Three children — ages 4, 7, and 13 — are known to have died in lawn dart-related incidents. An estimated 670 lawn dart injuries are treated each year in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Three quarters of the injured are under 15 years old. The types of lawn darts associated with the three deaths will be banned by the CPSC action."
After the ban went into place, Snow said that "my year-and-a-half struggle is now over. I made seven trips to Washington. I got blisters on my feet. But I just kept at it and today is the payoff. At least now I can say I kept my promise to my little girl."
Sporting goods stores weren't super thrilled about this ban, with some companies even trying to find a workaround where they sold the metal tips separately from the plastic fins.
Either way, the ban has been implemented for nearly 30 years now. While we all remember playing with them as kids, I guess the fact that they have safety in mind is probably a good thing.