It was the winter of 1954-1955. The cold war was raging. Sputnik was a couple years in the future. Invaders from outer space were in our conversations and kids of all ages were outside racing downhill on freshly fallen snow on sleds, toboggans, inner-tubes and scraps of old linoleum flooring. Then something changed.
Flying Saucers Invade
Flying saucers invaded in the form of an aluminum disc-shaped sled from Aluminum Goods Manufacturing Co. of Manitowok, Wisconsin (1890-2003). The company was renamed “Mirro” in 1917.
In the 1950s, Mirro was the country’s largest aluminum cookware producer, and despite its success in the industry, they expanded their products to include aluminum toys. One of those toys was the saucer-shaped aluminum sled named the Mirro Sno-Coaster.
Whether by design or a wonderful coincidence, the shape and color of the new sled fit perfectly with America’s obsession with invaders from outer space. Kids quickly assigned the sleds with the name “flying saucer.”
Spinning, racing, throwing up, crashing and lawsuits.
The saucer-like shape offered up serious speed and slipperiness — especially if you were a “waxer.” The new flying saucers also added spinning to the downhill slide. The outcome of the spinning for a lot of kids was a nice session of throwing up at the bottom of the hill.
Since there was no steering mechanism on the Sno-Coaster, you just kind of expected that your chances of crashing into a tree and going home with a knot of your head were better than average. After the crash and crying stopped, the bumps, bruises and broken arms were badges of courage.
Oh, the lawsuits never happened. Back then, crashing into a neighbor’s tree or the fence at a city park taught us that crashing was bad and we should learn not to do that. But injuries while sledding, tobogganing or flying on your saucer were never a reason to run home and call the nearest lawyer.