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Since 2004, silicone bracelets have become popular in the United States and in many other places around the globe. The yellow wristband that started the trend still sells today with its debossed message to 鈥淟 ivestrong,鈥?and still raises money for cancer research. Not long afterward, other silicone bracelets in other colors came to represent other causes and organizations. They soon became popular among young and old alike as a way to raise money for worthy organizations, support social causes or even to just have fun. Silicone bracelets are great fundraisers and a way to call attention to causes. But in recent months, the younger set has abandoned silicone bracelets in favor of another wrist-worn product 鈥?Silly Bandz 鈩? The purpose of Silly Bandz is to be, well, silly. They 鈥檙 e molded to take the shape of animals, guitars and other symbols. Unlike silicone bracelets, Silly Bandz aren 鈥 檛 really about message, making the world a better place or any such serious thoughts. You could say they 鈥檙 e more like Cyndi Lauper than silicone bracelets. They just wanna have fun. Silly Bandz are small, thin silicone bracelets 鈥?really closer to rubber bands than silicone bracelets -- that can be worn on the wrist. They snap back into their custom shape when the wearer takes them off. They 鈥檙 e far too narrow for any kind of printed message. Silly Bandz really are just for fun. Silly Bandz hit the elementary school scene last fall with the force of a fad tornado. They became such a hit that many schools banned them from the classroom, saying students became too distracted by playing with them and trading them. Silicone bracelets didn 鈥檛 really have the same impact a few years ago. Silly Bandz are marketed by Marketed by BCP Imports of Toledo, Ohio, a company that also imports silicone bracelets. The company also is known as the first distributor of the Livestrong silicone bracelets. The company has grown tenfold since it introduced Silly Bandz in the United States in 2008. A package of two dozen Silly Bandz typically sells for around $5, making them affordable for most children. Unlike silicone bracelets, Silly Bandz are thin, and they break much more easily than silicone bracelets. In essence, that creates a built-in replacement market, at least for as long as the fad lasts. It 鈥檚 too soon to tell whether Silly Bandz will last. They 鈥檝 e already spawned generic competing products, something that often spells the death of a fad. Unlike silicone bracelets, which remain a viable fundraising and promotional tool, Silly Bandz might not last six years. Silicone bracelets trace their original appeal to adults supporting a worthwhile cause. Whether Silly Bandz, a youth-driven toy fad, can show the same longevity as the classic silicone bracelets remains to be seen. If the elementary school fashion world moves on 鈥?and when it moves, it moves fast 鈥?Silly Bandz could be left in the dust of the classroom floor. Not every toy fad crashes to earth, of course. Frisbees and Slinkies both started as fads, but became mainstays of childhood for generations. Silly Bandz could become part of that elite group, much as silicone bracelets have already done. Or they could go the way of the Pet Rock, Davy Crockett hats and mood rings and be locked into their immediate era.
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