The Original Kazoo Company in Eden, NY began as a sheet metal shop in 1907. The trio of Harry Richardson, Emil Sorg, and Michael McIntyre combined their skills and resources and set to using the equipment to manufacture the first metal Kazoo in 1916. McIntyre was the inventor of the device and became the sole owner of the company in Eden in 1922.
The kazoo’s history reaches farther back with patents in 1883 and 1902. The kazoo is an instrument that works through vibrations that modify the player’s voice. It is a type of membranophone.
It was a novelty toy for my siblings and me growing up. It was serious business for bands in the early twentieth century. Who knew that in contemporary times, artists like Frank Zappa, Queen, and Pink Floyd used the kazoo in their music?
On August 9, 2010, The San Francisco Giants game with a Grateful Dead tribute won Guinness World Record status with 7,000 kazoos playing ‘Take me out to the Ballpark’ according to ESPN.
Visit 8703 South Main Street in Eden, NY 14057 for a look at the machines where the kazoos are manufactured. They are surprisingly big but then again, kazoos come in different shapes and sizes. There is the classic metal kazoo, the trumpet kazoo, the trombone kazoo, and the French horn kazoo. They come in the shape of airplanes and some are round.
To get to the rear of the place where the museum and factory are located, a visitor has a treasure of boutique gift items to browse through both in the front rooms and upstairs. The space is cluttered and has the feel of an antique shop or a bazaar. You will find clothes, watches, jewelry, baby items, magnets, and myriad distractions.
Depending on your demeanor, you may coo over the novelties or get down to business touring the space in the back: the history, artifacts, and workings of The Original Kazoo Company. Placards give the enquirer step by step instructions, a guide to the machinery. There are glass cases showing off the types of kazoos. It was an education for me; I only had one picture in my mind when I thought of a kazoo- not any more.
Souvenirs are for sale to commemorate your kazoo experience. You should not leave without signing the guestbook and placing a pushpin on a large map displayed there. The Original Kazoo Company is about a half an hour south of Buffalo.
The boutique and museum are closed on Mondays. Open hours are Tuesday-Thursday & Saturday 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Don’t let the snow in winter stop you, The Original Kazoo Company is open year round and admission is free.
The Original Kazoo Company