Dark Truth Behind Sea Monkeys Has Left People’s Childhood’s ‘Ruined’

People say their childhoods have been 'ruined' after discovering the dark truth behind sea monkeys. 
Credit: Moose Toys via YouTube

People say their childhoods have been ‘ruined’ after discovering the dark truth behind sea monkeys. 

You’ll likely remember sea monkeys, the novelty aquarium pets that have been around for years.

They’re sold as eggs intended to be added to water and often come in a bundled kit, including things like plushies, extra food and water purifiers.

Usually, they have a lifespan of around ‘two to three months’, however, it has been reported that under the right conditions, they can live up to five years.

While they can offer hours of entertainment to kids, it turns out that there’s a troubling backstory to sea monkeys – and it’s leaving people disturbed.

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The inspiration behind Sea Monkeys – whose resemblance to monkeys requires you to have quite the imagination – came from a trip to the pet shop, according to the Sea Monkeys website.

Harold von Braunhut, born in 1926 and raised in New York City, reportedly saw brine shrimp being used as fish food and wondered whether they could be used to educate children about nature.

He would begin ‘experimenting’ and in the year 1960 introduced them to the world as ‘Instant Life’.

Bred from different brine shrimp species, they were marketed as ‘instant’ pets – they do not exist in nature.

Sea Monkeys
Sea Monkeys were introduced to the world as ‘Instant Life’. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

After noticing their little shrimps’ tails, von Braunhut reportedly came up with their now iconic name.

“I looked at these animals and they’re the cutest things in the world and I noticed they have little monkey-like tails,” he recalled.

“I said, ‘Those are cute little sea monkeys’. So we checked the trademark register with my patent attorney, and he says, ‘Hey there are no sea monkeys’. That was in 1964.”

Sea monkeys live on foods like dry yeast, wheat flour, soybean powder or egg yolk, as per the Metro.

The product was marketed through comic books and thousands of children became fascinated with the tiny creatures.

“I think I bought something like 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year,” von Braunhut said according to Tim Walsh’s book ‘Timeless Toys’. “It worked beautifully.”

One fan remembers this well, taking to X, formally known as Twitter, to ask: “Who else remembers rushing to the mailbox every day looking for their Sea Monkeys that they ordered from the last page of an Archie’s comic book?”

Sea Monkeys in comic book.
Sea Monkeys were marketed through comic books, a fact many fans fondly remember. Credit: Alamy

Over the years, Sea Monkeys have become the family pets of millions of homes and they’ve even appeared in movies and TV shows, from South Park to The Simpsons.

But people are only just realising that there’s a disturbing backstory to the creator of Sea Monkeys.

“Yep, childhood ruined,” one person comments.

Another asks: “Why can’t we have nice things?”

“This is crazy,” a third writes.

Somebody else says: “Today in another instalment of childhood ruined…”

Harold von Braunhut
There is allegedly a dark back story to the creator of Sea Monkeys. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

According to The New York Times, which references a 1996 Anti-Defamation League report, von Braunhut allegedly belonged to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and the Aryan Nations.

The KKK is a historical and current American white supremacist, far-right terror organisation and hate group.

Its primary targets, over various times and places, have been African Americans, Jews, and Catholics.

The Aryan Nations is a North American anti-Semitic, Neo-Nazi and white supremacist hate group which was classed as a ‘terrorist threat’ in 2001, as per the FBI.

The Washington Post published an article in 1988 in which von Braunhut’s relatives reportedly claimed he was Jewish.

When questioned on his background, the Sea Monkeys creator responded: “I will not make any statements whatsoever.”

Apparently, he also told a reporter: “I will not discuss anything with you.”

Von Braunhut died aged 77 in 2003. He reportedly passed away after a fall.

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.