What is a novelty item, anyway? Odds are you can name a few: a Magic 8 Ball from the possibility-rich post-WWII era, Chia Pets in the 1980s, the turn-of-the-millennium Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish. But a definition is harder to come by. What do these objects have in common with each other? Why is it that, for a few short months, a pointless product can soar up the bestseller charts and then plummet like a stone? Part of the appeal, surely, is the comfort that comes with participation in a collective. In 2000, during the first holiday season of the new millennium, seemingly every dad in the Western world felt the warm glow of community as they chortled along to Big Mouth Billy’s tinny songs. President Bill Clinton reportedly gave one to his vice president, Al Gore. In The Sopranos, the dreams of mob boss (and dad) Tony Soprano are haunted by Big Mouth Billy This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Five Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 49 Object Matters A spotlight on commonplace books. Arts & Culture Design Issue 48 Object Matters A material history of the tote bag. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Object Matters An unperfumed history of the scented candle. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Object Matters A fuzzy history of the carpet. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Object Matters A modest history of the codpiece. Arts & Culture Issue 41 Object Matters The strange, hermitic history of the garden gnome.