It is believed that the Aztecs used intestines of cats, dried them, sewed with a vegetable thread to create an airtight seal. It was twisted into different shapes of animals and placed on the altar along with food and gifts as an offering to the Gods. With the invention of the rubber balloon by Michael Faraday in 1824, intestines were soon restricted to making sausages. He was trying out different benefits of hydrogen at the Royal Institution of London, when he cut round sheets of rubber and placed them next to each other. When he pumped in hydrogen, the rubber sheets expanded and started floating. A year later, Thomas Hancock sold rubber balloons that came in a kit comprising of liquid rubber and syringe.
Soon, local fairs, movie theaters started selling balloons by 1900s. Gradually, balloons became associated with fun and enthusiasm. Rubber balloons were manufactured in the US in 1907. In 1912, sausage balloons gained prominence and the Americans began twisting the balloons to make animals. The balloons were cigar-shaped rather than round. The credit for this goes to Ross Gill from Ohio. In 1922, hydrogen was replaced by helium as hydrogen-filled balloons were prone to explosion.
Helen Warny in the 20s established The Toy Balloon Company, New York, where she used balloons to shower on a parade, as a fashionable window display, etc. Her efforts were recognized when she released 50,000 helium filled balloons at once. Each balloon had an advertiser’s name and a tag prize and the finder of the balloon would get the prize mentioned on the tag.
The latex balloons that we use today was invented during the Great Depression by Neil Tillotson. In 1931, he sold 15 ‘Tily Cat’ balloons at the Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts. Soon, radium balloon (a colored balloon that had stripes in a different color), alligator balloon (the colorful balloon was dipped in acid and the result was two shades) and pig balloon (rubber ears and wooden legs were stuck in an airship balloon) emerged.
Skinny balloons were manufactured post second World War in Japan. A long, thin and colorful balloons could have multiple twists; thus more intricate animals could be created. Foil balloons appeared in the 1970s conveying ‘Happy birthday’ message.
At present, helium balloons are quite popular decoration materials used in birthdays, anniversaries and weddings. We can also find different types of balloons, such as water balloon, air balloon in parties today.