Happy National Kazoo Day! Each year, National Kazoo Day is celebrated on or around January 28th. It’s stated that this is the typical day, but it should be near the fourth Thursday of January, or really whenever it is convenient for the kazooist! The unofficial holiday actually started back in the 1980s and there is even a group of people that are trying to get the kazoo to be America’s national instrument! For such a simple instrument, it does have a great history behind it.
Legend has it that the kazoo dates back to the 1840s in Macon, Georgia with a collaboration between a man named Alabama Vest, and a clock-builder Thaddeus Von Clegg. Even earlier than that, the idea behind the kazoo seems to have evolved from horns or hide-covered instruments in Africa that vibrated and changed the voice of the player. Similarly, the wax membrane of a kazoo vibrates with each change in air pressure as one hums or makes noise through the instrument’s mouthpiece. Both ends of the tube are open, however one is larger and flat, and the other is small and round. A common mistake, like myself, is to simply blow into the kazoo like a whistle and expect sound. In reality, the kazooist is making the sound, and the kazoo alters it into a musical buzz. The category of instruments that a kazoo fits into is called a mirliton, who knew!
In 1883 the instrument was named the kazoo and officially patented by an American inventor named Warren Herbert Frost. Later on in 1902, George D. Smith patented the first metal kazoo, where soon after popularity spread. The Original American Kazoo Company from Eden, New York began a large-scale manufacturing of kazoos in 1916, and by 1994, they were producing over 1.5 million metal kazoos each year! Now it is called The Kazoo Factory and Museum, but still operates similar to it’s original production, and even offers tours for the public! Plastic kazoos are extremely popular today, but some companies have gotten extremely creative and have made them out of wood and even chocolate!
Apparently, the kazoo was supposed to be a sophisticated disguise of the voice upon invention, however it is commonly thought of now as a fun/annoying children’s toy. However you view it, take some time to enjoy this fun and easy instrument on National Kazoo Day!
Written By: Jaclyn Lucas