Inventor Lorenzo Maggiore demonstrates his Bug-A-Salt gun which kills flies and other insects with a small blast of table salt.
This is not a joke or a hoax.
That’s good news but it also says something a little disturbing about the human condition — and North American consumerism — that a toy gun designed to kill flies and other insects with a blast of table salt from a few feet away (see video) has become an overnight success and best-seller on the Internet.
Well, “overnight” success in the sense that the first production run of 22,000 Bug-A-Salt plastic fly blasters sold out in a matter of weeks online.
Not so “overnight” when you consider that the idea first came to California artist and surfer dude Lorenzo Maggiore, now 51, when he stuffed sand into his BB gun to try to shot flies as a teenager.
Maggiore fooled around with the idea off and on for the next few decades, hitting on the transition from sand to salt in the 1990s, but didn’t get serious about bringing his idea to market until 2008.
Maggiore then hooked up with a toy design company in China to develop a prototype and refine the design of his salt gun (which uses pump-action air compression to fire a 1-mg blast of ordinary granulated table salt).
In the process, Maggiore estimates he spent about $300,000 of his own savings and money borrowed from family, friends and by maxing out seven credit cards. A venture capitalist in San Francisco threw a little more cash in the pot and this past summer the Bug-A-Salt was offered up on the Indiegogo crowdfunding website.
Maggiore was only looking for $15,000 to get the first production run underway, but he ended up with more than $500,000 in new capital when thousands of people paid $30-a-pop in advance for their anti-fly guns.
Here’s a link to the Bug-A-Salt site on the Indiegogo platform.
And here’s a link to the Bug-A-Salt home page.
A new production run of Bug-A-Salt guns is now underway in China but you may have to wait a bit before they’re available again here.
In the meantime, you can decide: Do I really want to be shooting pinches of salt all over the house or is a simple fly swatter a better idea?
Sometimes the mousetrap — or fly swatter — just doesn’t need to be re-invented.
This is the illustration Robert R. Montgomery of Decatur, Illinois, submitted to the U.S. Patent Office in October 1899 as part of his application for the first formally recognized fly swatter. Montgomery was issued Patent # 640,790 for his “Fly-Killer” on Jan. 9, 1900. I’m still not sure how Montgomery was able to get a patent on a concept that’s been around as long as human beings and flies have occupied the same living space.