Whoopee cushion

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A typical whoopee cushion

A whoopee cushion (also spelled whoopey cushion or whoopie cushion) is a practical joke device, which emulates the sound of flatulence.

History and modern usage[edit]

The whoopee cushion has reportedly been used since ancient times. Roman Emperor Elagabalus was said to enjoy practical jokes at his dinner parties and often placed whoopee cushions under the chairs of his more pompous guests.[1][dubious ] The 10th-century Aghlabid emir of Ifriqiya, Ziyadat Allah III, is said to have enjoyed hiding inflated animal bladders under the cushions of his palace for unsuspecting guests to sit on.[2][dubious ]

The modern rubber whoopee cushion was invented in the 1930s by the JEM Rubber Co. of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, by employees who were experimenting with scrap sheets of rubber.[3] The company's owner approached Samuel Sorenson Adams, inventor of numerous practical jokes and owner of S.S. Adams Co., with the newly invented item; however, Adams thought that it was "too vulgar" and would never sell. JEM then offered the idea to the Johnson Smith Company, which sold it with great success. Adams later released its own version, calling it the Razzberry Cushion.[3]


Video showing the working principle of whoopee cushions in slow motion

The device is made from two sheets of rubber, adhered at their perimeter, with a small flap opening at one end for air to enter and exit. Whoopee cushions lack durability and can break easily, lasting longest when they are not inflated or sat on with excessive force.[citation needed]


Self-inflating cushion with sponge interior

Whoopee cushions are inflated by blowing into the flapped opening. "Self-inflating" cushions have an interior sponge that keeps them in a normally expanded state, and do not require inflation.

The cushion is then placed under a seat cushion or other material, for someone unsuspecting to sit on it — forcing the air out, causing the flap to vibrate and creating a flatulent sound.

If the act of sitting happens to block the air flow, the cushion can rupture -- thus requiring some attention in placement of the cushion. Alternatively, the cushion can be inflated and intentionally operated by hand to produce the noise.

A flatulent noise can be made by inflating a toy balloon, then releasing the opening and letting it deflate. The escaping air causes the opening to vibrate and make noise as the balloon is propelled away.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Warwick Ball (4 January 2002). Rome in the East: The Transformation of an Empire. Routledge. pp. 412–. ISBN 978-1-134-82386-4.
  2. ^ Halm, Heinz (1996). The Empire of the Mahdi: The Rise of the Fatimids (Translated from the German by Michael Bonner). Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 112. ISBN 90-04-10056-3. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Whoopee Cushion got first airing here". Toronto Star. March 31, 2008. Archived from the original on 5 September 2016.