Foam fingers. Don't deny it, you love them. And you love the added enjoyment they bring as you wave them in support of your team one second, then harmlessly hit your friends over the head with them the next. Who was the inventor of this cushy oversized hand? In 1978, a high school teacher named Geral Fauss taught Industrial Arts at Cypress Fairbanks ISD in Cypress, Texas. It seemed his love for sports, design, and illustration merged together nicely with his desire to support his school's football team. Fauss invented the 'Number 1' finger to help raise funds for his Industrial Arts club and as a project his class could produce themselves. He made 400 fingers for his school's football team's championship game. All 400 sold out. The first prototype of the 'Number 1' finger was made of plywood and is pictured in the above photo with Fauss.
Fauss decided to test-market his product at the 1978 Cotton Bowl between Texas and Notre Dame. He made (by hand) hundreds of heavy Masonite "Texas #1" hands and lugged them to the Cotton Bowl. In less than thirty minutes after he arrived to the game, they were all sold. His idea was an instant success! Fauss and a few employees began working out of his father's abandoned sheet-metal factory and pretty soon Spirit Hand Novelties, Inc. was born. If Fauss was going to mass produce these fingers, the one obstacle he had to overcome was the weight of the wooden fingers. Fauss experimented with other lighter weight materials such as Styrofoam, however, he quickly learned that although Styrofoam was lightweight, it was too fragile. The 'foam' fingers were eventually made of polyurethane foam in 1979.
Photo below shows early 'Number 1' prototypes of foam hands, ca.1979.