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Loftus International

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

The "rubber chicken" joke dates back as far as I can remember as a popular part of comedy acts and practical jokes. The gag symbolizes something completely worthless, but for one Utah company, the rubber chicken is actually quite valuable — so much so that it's become the company's mascot. Strange? Not at all. Not when you're business is all about jokes and novelties, which it is for Utah's own Loftus Novelty.

Though the name may not be entirely familiar, chances are if you purchased any balloons, Halloween costumes, magic tricks, mini remote controlled cars or any type of gag item, they probably came from Loftus.

The story begins in 1939. George Loftus saw a need for novelty items and magic tricks in Salt Lake City. So he and his stepson Gene Rose opened a tiny shop on Main Street between First and Second South. Business went well for Gene, which led him to start manufacturing his own line of merchandise. One of his first items was an electric nose cleaner made from a rubber finger and a cord. Shortly thereafter, Loftus Novelty produced and marketed the first rubber chicken made of Latex rubber. The product spread nationally, and Gene bought the rights to the original rubber chicken mold.

During the 60s, Gene recognized an opportunity to go wholesale in the novelty business. Eventually Gene sold the shop on Main Street, moved all operations to Loftus Novelty's current headquarters and switched to wholesaling only. Over the years the company's inventory expanded to include not only magic tricks and novelty items, but also balloons, party decorations and costumes. By the mid 90s, Loftus Novelty was supplying novelty items to retailers throughout the world. At that time, the company changed its name to Loftus International.

Today, Gene and his son, Jim, run the business. The two travel all over expanding their product lines and searching for the novelty industry's next rubber chicken.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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