Balloon Terms

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Balloon types: by brand

Information about the companies who manufacture these brands of balloons and lists of their unique, or ‘Entertainer’ balloon lines (not round, meaning ‘Decorator’ or ‘Party’ balloons) are included here. Most of these companies also produce round and imprinted latex balloons and mylars.


  • Ashland is (and has been for some time) out of business. However, Ashland balloons are still mentioned sometimes; they are listed here for completeness.
  • I just looked up a 1993 T. Myers catalogue to verify… Ashland produced airships (340’s), Bee Balloons (321s), Apples, Spinners or Whirlys (260w’s), and Spaghetti Balloons(130s). Also their 260s came in different thicknesses, the larger the letter, the thicker the wall of the balloon.
  • The A, E and W were used by Ashland to differentiate thin- walled or Amateur, thick- walled or Entertainment, and spiral, or whirly, balloons, respectively.
  • When I started balloons, Ashland was still in business. They made different thicknesses of balloons at that time, A, being the thinnest and E being the thickest- walled balloons. The A balloons could be blown up by anyone, but popped easily. At that time the ‘double dipped’ E’s were called professionals. When Qualatex came along, their balloons were slightly thicker than the Ashland E’s.
  • I started with the 260As, and once I could blow them up reliably, started trying to inflate 260Es. About six weeks later, I could inflate 260Es reliably. Once I could inflate 260Es reliably, I stopped buying the 260As — they broke too much.
  • According to George Schindler in his book Titled: Basic Balloon Sculpture; 1983, A originally stood for Amateur and E was an Entertainment grade.

BSA (Balloon Supply of America)

  • BSA is a brand name for The National Latex Products Company
  • They started manufacturing 260’s in early 1998, with much excitement over their selection of colors, of which some were not currently available by other manufacturers.
  • BSA manufactures 260’s.
  • BSA 260’s come in the following colors: dark blue, black, clear, green, orange, pink, purple, red, blue, white, yellow, brown, lavender, metallic silver, and a pearltone peach.
  • For info, contact:
    Balloon Supply of America
    PO Box 302
    Ashland, Ohio 44805
    800-338-0973 or 419-289-9508 or FAX 419-281-5114
  • Web Address:

Fine Image

  • Fine Image manufactures gloves, prophylactics, pantyhose, etc., as well as balloons. They are a German company that manufactures in Thailand.
  • Fine Image manufactures airships, rounds(to 6′), and “novelty”(see below) balloons.
  • Their imprinted “novelty” balloons come in sundry shapes ranging from cute animals, and clowns, all the way to vicious racist stereotypes.
  • At one time Pioneer was the US distributor. Pioneer stopped distributing them a few years ago and Gummiwerk advertised for a new US distributor but I never heard of anyone picking up the line. It’s a shame too because their large round balloons (up to 1.6 meter) are great. Some of those shapes, like the (grosse naese) big nose come in very large sizes. One thing to consider with these types of shapes is that they take a little practice to learn to inflate successfully
  • For info, contact:
    Fine Image Co., Ltd.
    735 Highway Lampang-Ngao,
    Hua Wiang, Muang, Lampang 52000,
    Tel. +66-1-8216135, Fax +66-54-323417
  • Web Address:


  • Gayla brand balloons are manufactured by Gayla Industries Inc. in Houston, Texas.
  • They manufacture 260’s and 5″ hearts.
  • Gayla 260’s come in light green, dark green, yellow, red, light blue, dark blue, clear, purple, orange, pink, brown, black and white.
  • For info, contact:
    Gayla Industries Inc.
    P.O. Box 920800
    Houston, Texas 77292-0800
  • Or visit their website:

Party Loons

  • Party Loons are manufactured in Mexico and are a brand name of CTI Industries Corporation
  • Party Loons 260’s come in silver, gold, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, lavender, purple, pink, white, black, and an assortment of “neon” colors; blue, green, yellow, pink, and orange.
  • For info, contact:
    CTI Industries
    22160 Pepper Road
    Barrington, IL 60010
    (847) 382-1000 FAX(847) 382-1219 (800) 284-5666.


  • Prestige is a brand name of Tilco International Inc.
  • In early 1998 Tilco closed their U.S. branch, but still manufacture and sell balloons out of Quebec, Canada.
  • They manufacture 260’s and 360’s.
  • Prestige 260’s come in Standard: blue, light blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, white, and in Crystal: purple, dark blue, dark green, yellow, red, clear and black. 360’s come in red, white, blue, green, orange, yellow and pink.
  • For info, contact:
    Tilco International, Inc.
    260 Sainte-Michel
    Quebec, Canada J3B1T4
    1(800) 421-1980
  • Observations:

    Prestige 260’s seem softer and easier to inflate than other brands.
    260P are slightly longer than other 260s.
    Many of the Prestige balloons are opaque.
    Prestige 260 balloons shatter into small pieces when popped.


  • Qualatex is a brand name of the Pioneer Balloon Company.
  • Qualatex balloons are manufactured in Canada and the U.S.A.
  • They manufacture 160’s, 260’s, 350’s, 321’s(Beebodies), 418’s, 524’s, Geo Blossoms, Geo Donuts, and Hearts.
  • 260’s come in Stndard: white, light blue, and pink,
    Jewel Tone: yellow, red purple, orange, dark green, dark blue, black, clear, brown, gray, and maroon
    Designer Tone; lilac, light green, goldenrod, and hot pink, Metallic Tone: white, black, fuscia, teal, gold, and silver.
  • 160’s come in Standard: white, pink, light blue, Jewel Tone: yellow, red, orange, purple, dark blue, dark green, and black.
  • 350’s’s come in Stndard: white, light blue, and pink, Jewel Tone: yellow, red purple, orange, dark green, dark blue, black, and clear.
  • for info, contact:
    Pioneer Balloon
    555 N. Woodlawn
    Wichita, Kansas
    67208-3682 Phone number: (316) 685-2266
    1(800) 999-5644 for dealer referral.
    1-800-685-5677 for Qualatex customer service.
  • Web Adress:


  • Superior’s brand name is Supertex. “Manufacturing Since 1957,” according to their catalog.
  • Superior manufactures 260s, 220s, Serpentine balloons, Knobby balloons, five sizes of airships, and they offer decorator and mylar balloons.
  • Superior’s entertainer line comes in standard assortments (no clear tones)
  • Superior Balloon Company
    530 Livernois Ave.
    Ferndale, MI 48220
    Orders Only(800)323-0405
    Fax (800)577-3801
    810/543-2234 Phone
    810/543-1593 Fax


  • Tilly is a brand name of Dipco Inc.(Tillotson Balloons), of Fall River, Massachussetts
  • Tilly’ are manufactured in Fall River Massachussetts, USA
  • They manufacture 130’s, 245’s, 260’s, 280’s, 315’s, 344’s, 340’s, 320’s(apples), 321’s, and 760’s.
  • Tilly come in red, dark blue, light blue, yellow, light green, dark green, purple, lavender, orange, pink, burgundy, white and black.
  • For info, contact:
    Dipco Inc.
    P.O. Box 2573
    Fall Rivers, MA 02722
  • Observations (and history):

    Tilly 260 balloons shred into long, thin pieces when popped.

    Tilly balloons used to be the work of TILCO International, supposedly the oldest balloon company. Tilly and Tilco are now different companies. Tilco International, a Canadian company, now makes the balloons known as Windys.


  • Unique is a brand name of Unique Industries Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
  • Unique are manufactured in Mexico.
  • They manufacture 260’s, Mouse balloons(mouse heads), Squiggly Worms, and Squiggly balloons.
  • Unique balloons come in blue, orange, yellow, red, light green, pink and white
  • Unique Industries Inc.
    2400 S. Weccacoe Ave.
    Philadelphia, PA 19148
    East of Rockies 1(800) 888-0559
    West of Rockies 1(800) 320-0787
  • Web address: Http://
  • Observations:

    Many of the Unique balloons are opaque.

Balloon types: by number

Long skinny balloons are initially identified by a two-part, three- digit, number (example: 260). The first digit indicates the diameter of a fully inflated balloon in inches. The following two digits refer to the length of the fully balloon inflated (also in inches). So, our 260 example is two inches wide and sixty inches long, when fully inflated. (Well, in theory this is what it should be, in actuality you’ll notice a large variation. Even within the same package you’ll find that different colors inflate to different sizes.)


  • Labeled “Spaghetti Balloons” by Tilly, these balloons are 1″ by 30″(approx.).
  • Ashland once produced a 130. When Ashland dissolved, Tilly bought Ashland’s 130 molds.
  • 1″ wide balloons are twisted like 260’s but on a smaller scale, to create miniatures, accessories for 260 designs, or for their petite aesthetic.


  • These balloons are 1″ by 60″ and are unofficialy refered to as “Spaghetti Balloons.”
  • Qualatex put 160’s on the market in mid 1998.
  • 1″ wide balloons are twisted like 260’s but on a smaller scale, to create miniatures, accessories for 260 designs, or for their petite aesthetic.


  • The 260 is the mainstay of Balloon Entertainers. 2″ by 60″ (approx.), many balloon artists use these balloons exclusively and they are frequently packaged to be sold to the public, sometimes in a kit w/ a pump and/or book/video.
  • There are many brands of 260. Pick a favorite or use many brands for a superior color palette.
  • 260’s are sometimes referred to as “Pencil Balloons.”


  • 280’s are 2″ by 80″, Tilly makes them. The gimmick is the extra 2″ to twist with.


  • Superior manufactures 312s. They are one of many sizes of Airships available on the market.
  • 312s are used to twist and sculpt figures by themselves or incorporated with other types of balloons.
  • They can be used for “rocket” toys, tricks, gags, and other curiosities.


  • Superior and Tilly manufacture 315s. They are one of many sizes of Airships available on the market.
  • 315s are used to twist and sculpt figures by themselves or incorporated with other types of balloons.
  • They can be used for “rocket” toys, tricks, gags, and other curiosities.


  • Tilly manufactures 320s. They are also called Apples, so named because of their use for making a quick apple.
  • 320s are nearly identical to Bee Bodies (see the next entry, 321s) The exception is the double dipped portion (tail or stinger)is rounded at the tip instead of pointed.


  • Qualatex and Tilly manufacture 321’s, which are also known as Bee Bodies.
  • They are approx. 3″ by 13″ with the final inch being double dipped in another color of latex(usually black, red or green).
  • They are commonly used to make a figure of a bee, because the double dipped section looks like a stinger. Changing the proportions and orientation, you can make a hummingbird, the double dipped seciton looks like the beak. There are many other uses for them however, and there is literature on the topic.


  • Qualatex manufactures a 350, they are 3″ by 50″.
  • At IBAC, I was told that the reasons Pioneer makes a 350Q (as opposed to the 390Q that we’d love to have) are manufacturing related. Evidently the latex vats currently in use were designed for the length of a 260Q mold; the 350Q is all we can get without Pioneer investing in lots of new equipment (Notice that a 350Q has approximately the same uninflated length as a 260Q).
  • Three inch wide balloons are generally twisted like 260’s, but on a larger scale for better visibility.


  • Prestige manufactures 360’s which are 3″ by 60″.
  • Three inch wide balloons are generally twisted like 260’s, but on a larger scale for better visibility.


  • Qualatex and Superior manufacture 418s. They are one of many sizes of Airships available on the market.
  • 418s are used to twist and sculpt figures by themselves or incorporated with other types of balloon.
  • They can be used for “rocket” toys, tricks, gags, and other curiosities.


  • Qualatex and Superior manufacture 418s. They are one of many sizes of Airships available on the market.
  • 524s are used to twist and sculpt figures by themselves or incorporated with other types of balloons.
  • They can be used for “rocket” toys, tricks, gags, and other curiosities.


  • Manufactured by Tilly, whose main distributor lists them as 76s, They are 7″x60″, with a swirled texture. Referred to as “Palm Tree frond” balloons or “Banana” balloons.
  • They come stretched or unstretched, imprinted with colorful streaks or not, and in the standard Tilly, unpredictable 5 color assortment.
  • Use them as tree trunks, palm fronds or sculpt away. They are highly visible and work well on their own as a fun toy balloon.


  • Superior manufactures 1024s. They are one of many sizes of Airships available on the market.
  • 1024s are used to twist and sculpt figures by themselves or incorporated with other types of balloons.
  • They can be used for “rocket” toys, tricks, gags, and other curiosities.

Balloon types: by common name or slang

The name of balloons change with who is selling them. The person that names them for the manufacturer may be the inventory control person, the promotion person or the inventor. The reseller is going to promote the balloons and use whatever word he thinks will sell or describe them best. Animal, Twisty, Pencil, Airship: the names may have had a specific meaning to start with, but they have picked up wider definitions or been dropped from use over time.


  • Airships take their name from dirigibles (blimps or zeppelins) because of size similarities. They are shorter and fatter than the standard entertainer balloon, the 260.
  • Airships were the balloons that were first used to “twist” with, some time in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Airships come in many sizes: 312s, 315s, 418s, 524s and 1040s

Animal Balloons

  • Generally speaking, a term for balloons made specifically for twisting. Because animals are a very popular subject of balloon entertainers and their customers, entertainer balloons have been marketed and referred to thus.

Bee Bodies

  • See 321s.
  • They are approx. 3″ by 13″ with the final inch being double dipped in another color of latex(usually black, red or green).
  • They are commonly used to make a figure of a bee, because the double dipped section looks like a stinger. There are many other uses for them however, and there is literature on the topic.

Custom Shaped Balloons

  • Bruce Walden has a technique for custom shape mylars in which, he actually cuts mylar sheets or scraps of mylar balloons and seals them with a heat sealer. An example would be Teeth and Claws for a Giant mylar dragon he had created and the mylar fish sculptures.
  • At IBAC 1996, several competitors MADE their own *balloons* from mylar sheets or reconfigured existing balloons to suit their designs… both types of creations were done throughout the use of a standard household iron!

Foil Balloons

  • The concept and technology for the “metalization” of plastic sheeting that has given us foil balloons comes directly out of the NASA Space Mission. By the way, all of us sculptors should stop referring to foil balloons as Mylar (a trademarked name for a certain type of polyester film) balloons. The balloon industry refers to them as “foil” balloons, because they are made of nylon sheet, coated on one side with polyethylene and metallized on the other. It’s evidently so much harder to make balloons out of aluminized Mylar (and probably so much more expensive) that nobody does it. An important point to remember is that the effective diameter of a foil balloon goes DOWN as it is inflated (only it’s thickness increases). A fully inflated 18″ foil balloon only covers about a 14″ diameter of flat surface. A very hard foil balloon will not cover as much as a very soft foil balloon.

Foil Gift Wrapping

  • Forget about twisting. Buy a heat sealing machine, find a mall before Christmas and go into the business of gift wrapping presents in balloons. Special pillow shaped foil balloons with beautiful printed designs are available and are an incredibly fast way to wrap gifts. You spend seconds rather than minutes per gift and it’s totally unique and novel (read “$$$”). Opaque 16″ latex balloons printed with “Do not open ’till Dec. 25” are also available, as is the stuffing equipment used to fill them. In this kit, the balloons are a 2 chamber foil-balloon packaging system where the gift is lodged in the inner chamber, and surrounded by the inflated outer chamber. You place your gift inside, seal it yourself, and then inflate the outer chamber through a small straw.

Flying Saucers

  • A flat, round balloon with a nozzle coming off the edge at an angle. It spins as it deflates.

Geos (Donuts and Blossoms)

  • Made by Qualatex, Geos are identified by a single number that refers to their diameter (example: 6-inch geos).
  • Geos are a specially patented balloon with a hole in the center, useful for anchoring things to or through the balloon.
  • Geos come in two flavors, Donuts(16″), and Blossoms(6″ and 16″). The donuts are shaped like their namesake with a nozzle at a point on the outside edge, The blossoms are subtly segmented into five bulging “petals” that give it a flower like appearance.
  • 6′ blossoms come in 16 colors, 16″ blossoms 8 colors and 16″ donuts 11 colors.
  • The geo makes a fast flower with a 260 flower stem and leaves. However there are many uses for Geos.

Giant (Latex) Balloons

  • It is impossible to find balloon sizes between 16″ and three foot in the U.S. (i.e. 20 or 24 inch round balloons). However, in Europe or Australia I was able to get 20″ and larger round balloons very easily.
  • I know there are a lot of distributors for giant balloons, but it is difficult to find one that will sell to individuals. I found a distributor for 3 foot balloons in Portland, OR.
  • I don’t recall any manufacturers in the U.S. that make latex balloons bigger than the five foot rounds from Qualatex. In fact, many of distributors I order 4 or 5 foot latex balloons from get these balloons from outside the U.S., so I feel it best to look at manufactures in Europe or Asia. My experience with large weather balloons are that they may not be rugged enough for outdoor display usage. (see weather balloon section, below)
  • My distributor for large balloons (over 5′) is:
    Levin & Co.
    Phil Levin
    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
    Over 5′ I use vinyl instead of trying for latex. This company also will do artwork on round, airship or blimps. I have used him for 10′ rounds and airships for company promotions, and have found him to be good to work with.

Glow in the dark balloons

  • CJ Lovik in Washington made glow in the dark round balloons. He is well known as one of the top ventriloquist figure (dummy) makers in the country. He no longer produces balloons.
  • Clear 260’s are frequently mistaken for glow in the dark balloons. Sadly, we are unaware of a manufacturer that is currently producing these balloons.


  • Hearts are identified by a single number that refers to their diameter (example: 6-inch hearts).
  • 6″ hearts are manufactured by Gayla and Qualatex. These are more commonly used by balloon entertainers than the larger 11″ hearts which are manufactured by BSA (Balloon Supply of America) and Qualatex.
  • Hearts are great on their own, but have also been manipulated in many useful ways. By twisting the lobes you can anchor them to each other or to other balloons. Alot can be done with under-inflating them.
  • There are also many mylar/foil heart balloons on the market

Hot Water Bottles

  • When I was a kid I saw a guy on TV blow-up a hot water bottle until it burst. Now that’s lung power 🙂
  • Someone remembers from their childhood seeing someone blow up a hot water bottle on TV. I don’t know who did it in the past, but I know Todd Robbins, magician and side show specialist, recently did it on TV and also at the ’96 SAM (Soc. of Am. Magicians) national convention. (A joke was made about the guy who was trying to blow up a turtle balloon…)

Inflatable Women/ Men

  • Inflatable dolls are made from vinyl/ plastic. Because of their weight and capacity, they will not float when filled with helium. It is best to inflate the doll with air and use 36′ helium balloons to float it. You will need to experiment with the doll and the balloons, to give you the number of balloons required to lift it. Factors you will need to consider are how many dolls you will need to inflate and how long you need them to float! Be careful of when ordering the dolls, some are very explicit in their anatomy! This is one centerpiece you will not get back after the party!

Jell-O Balloons


  • Knobbies are manufactured by Superior. Unique markets a similar balloon they call a Squiggly balloon
  • Knobbies are long skinny balloons that inflate into a series of bulbous segments, rather like a caterpillar.
  • Superior’s catalog shows three sizes, a short 2″ circumferencem, a medium length 3″ circumference and a long 4″ circumference.

Latex Gloves

  • I’ve known for ages (as have, I’m sure, we all) that blowing one of these up a little makes something like an udder (anyone wanna make a life-size cow?), but I’d always wondered:
    1. How big can they be inflated, and
    2. If inflated fully, do they look like a big hand?

    Well, I “borrowed” a set of sample gloves here at the hospital, and now present my results:

    1. They inflate quite large, actually. I used an “extra small” size glove, and before exploding it was at least 16″ x 30″.
    2. No. Just before popping, it did not look like a hand. More like, say, a mitten, with 2 inch uninflated tips of the fingers.
  • When my son broke his arm the doctor blew up a rubber glove and with marker in hand changed it into a chicken. We had to go to another hospital to have it set by a baby doctor and he blew up one too and made it into a turkey.

Link O’Loons

  • The balloon is (basically) a round 28cm (11″) latex balloon with a tail similar to the tail on a Qalatex 321. (bee body) The tail allows the balloon artist to tie (or “link”) the inflated balloons together end-on-end. (neck to tail)
  • The LINK-O-LOON was invented by Jean-Michel Lucie, one of Australias foremost balloon decorators. The LINK-O-LOON was launched on Monday June 2, 1997 at the Australasian Balloon Convention, in 38 colors. Made by Sanbrook – Premier Balloons, PO Box 659 RINGWOOD, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA, 3134, (03) 9870 3033, it is a standard 30cm latex balloon, but with an important difference: it has an elongated tail (opposite the neck) which can be used to tie the LINK-O-LOON to another balloon, LINK-O-LOON or bunch of balloons. In this way simple chains or arches can be created without fishing line, quickly and easily. Complex self- supporting 3 dimensional designs, shapes and matrices can also quickly and easily be constructed without props, frames or other supports. They form simple yet elegant chains or arches without the use of fishing line. See them at or
  • The Premier Balloon “Link-a-Loon” had it’s world wide premier launch onto the market at the Australasian Balloon Convention in June last year. It is manufactured by an all Australian company – “Sanbrook Rubber Co.” It is reported to be the brainchild of an Australian balloon artist from Melbourne. Premier Balloons (Sanbrook) is Australia’s largest (and only!) manufacturer of latex balloons, and has produced high quality balloons since 1956.

Mouse head Balloons

  • Balloons in the shape of a cartoon mouse head are available. They are like heart balloons with much bigger lobes.
  • Liscensed ones are manufactured by Qualatex. Mouse heads with out a Disney reference are manufactured by Unique.
  • Because of the Disney license, the balloons all have some form of imprint on them. They can not be purchased plain. They CAN be imprinted, but this requires the authorization of one specific person at Disney, and can only be imprinted for a Disney related event. Another note, they are really expensive. I mean REALLY expensive, so be prepared.
  • The Unique mouse heads are also imprinted with a crude face that looks more like a cat than a mouse.

Novelty-Shaped Latex Balloons

  • “Novelty Balloons” is a term that has been used to describe balloons that are not round shaped.
  • Fine Image makes a great assortment of novelty balloons. Their web site has them on display.

Pencil Balloons

  • Generic term for 260’s, 280’s, 130’s, 360’s, etc…. You should probably substitute 260 where these are mentioned.
  • Any balloon that is generally pencil-shaped i.e.: long and thin.
  • Pencil balloons is a term used by companies who sold balloons to the public. They are usually 260’s, but could be any long skinny balloon. As a twister, you would not buy them because they are small Quantities of cheap, over-priced balloons.

Punch Balloons

  • A punch balloon is a thick walled latex balloon with a rubber band attached. Push your hand through the rubber band and bounce the balloon back and forth.
  • Some people put in a teaspoon of sugar or rice inside, and then blow up the balloon. Makes a great noise and the kids love it!

Round Balloons

  • Your standard “party” and ‘decorator’ balloons. They are identified by a single number that refers to their diameter (example: 9-inch rounds).
  • Smiley face balloons: now available in 5″ These are great to have on hand for the kid who is afraid of balloons, and they look great on a hat. They make a great “Happy Stick.” Put a Smiley on top of a “Twisted Wrister” – a single full 260 folded in half and wound around itself.
  • Yummy from Tucson showed me how to use 5″ pearls blown up one and a half inches, tie three together, and put them in the arms of a bunny rabbit, Presto – Easter Bunny.
  • If you play with the shape of the 5″ balloons a little, you can shape them just like eggs.

Self-inflating Balloons

  • Small, self-inflating mylar balloons are now being produced. The uninflated balloon is packaged already sealed. The inflation process is initiated by breaking the internal packet of chemicals, which is stored inside balloon. The two chemicals compounds, lemon juice and baking soda are completely non-toxic. Carbon dioxide is released by the chemical mixing, which inflates the balloon.

Spaghetti Balloons

  • The term “Spaghetti” balloon refers to an entertainer balloon with a 1″ circumference, i.e., 130s or 160s. The term was coined by T. Myers, as he explains,
    “Heres my take on the history on the 1″ twisting balloon. I’d guess it was in 1987 that a twister at a clown convention showed me a 1″ balloon made in (I think) Mexico. He had bought a pack of 36 somewhere. It was about a 115 size balloon and it made a great little poodle. I don’t remember who it was but it seems to me it was a friend of Dancin’ Dan Hansen’s. On the same trip I stopped by Ashland Rubber in Ohio and talked to the manager who had never seen a 1″ twisting balloon and said he’d work on them. They came out within a year. My first ad for them named them as 130 Spaghetti Balloons. I wanted to imply they were very skinny.”

Spinners/ Spiral Balloons

  • ‘Spinner’ and Whirly and ‘Spiral’ were terms used for Ashland‘s 260W. It was held sideways right after the mold was dipped causing one side of the 260 to be thicker. As it inflated it naturally spiraled. The method they used was just a guy holding the mold sideways for what he thought was right. The quality of the balloon and the amount of spiral varied a great deal.
  • There used to be a balloon that would curl automatically when you blew it up; when you let go of the balloon, it would spin as it flew away.
  • There used to be a balloon known as the 260W (for whirly-bird) that had extra latex on one side. This balloon curled as it inflated and would spin as it deflated. They were made by the Ashland Rubber Company. I called the company who bought their molds and they are not making them. ‘Spinners’ refer to the old 260W’s.
  • The mold was turned while the latex was still wet, causing uneven wall thickness.

Squiggly Worm Balloons

  • Squiggly Worm Balloons are manufactured by Unique
  • They inflate to a little over 2 feet long and have a body diameter the size of a 350, with a pear-shaped “head” about the size of a fully inflated 5″ round. At the tip of the head is an antenna which stands erect but does not increase in diameter upon inflation. Each balloon has a printed happy face on it. Because the head (the nipple end) inflates larger than the body, these worm balloons inflate “backwards”. Also, the ribbing on the 3″ diameter section is helical, which gives a very interesting visual effect for the person doing the inflating!!!
  • My only suggestion in inflating the worms is be careful. The “head” has a tendency to pop during inflation.
  • I have seen, but not purchased, a larger version of these worm balloons. They were packaged in pairs and displayed in a supermarket for $2.00 a package.
  • There has been discussion on the BHQ email list and with Unique about packaging these balloons by the gross. They are currently only available in 12 count bags.

Talking Balloons

  • Remember the “talking balloons”? They had the plastic ribbon with ridges on it and when you ran your fingernail down the ribbon the balloon made a sound like it was saying words. The Incredible Balloon Machine Company that makes the Balloomers stuffing and the puffPAC mylar wrapping machine offers them. Their number is 1-800-748-6995. That is the only place that I have seen that offers them yet.

Twisty Balloons

  • “Twisty’ balloon seems to be a ‘slang’ term for sub-standard brands of 260’s. It does not refer to any/ all balloons that can be twisted… it’s a term mostly for the knockoffs. Generally speaking, the term for balloons made specifically for twisting, 260s, 130’s 280’s. (geo’s and hearts etc are not specifically made for twisting).

Water Balloons

  • Balloons filled with water instead of air. Usually very thin- walled, round balloons are used.

Weather Balloons

  • Totex is one of the worlds largest makers of weather balloons. All of their balloons are sprayed into a rotating mold rather than dipped and are of very high quality (and price). In addition to weather balloons, they also make a line of balloons that are a chloroprene/ latex blend and come in several colors. These balloons are called “AB Balloons” and unlike weather balloons are designed to be tethered.Totex Corp. (Toto K.K.)
    Katakura Bldg. 1 – 2
    Kyobashi 3-chome
    Tokyo 104, Japan
    Telephone 81-3-(3281) 6988
    Fax 81-3-(3281) 7095
    Contact: S. Mizuno, Director International Division
  • They are a wholesaler of balloons they do carry an 8 foot giant Chloroprene and a small selection of giant meteorological balloons is a wholesaler of balloons they do carry an 8 foot giant Chloroprene and a small selection of giant meteorological balloons.Toy Tex Novelty Company
    7315 N. Linder Ave.
    Skokie, IL 60077
    Phone (708) 673-6600
    (800) 323-0798
    Fax: (708) 676-5298

Whirly Balloons

  • ‘Spinner’ and ‘Whirly’ and ‘Spiral’ were terms used for Ashland’s 260W.
  • See the Spinners/Spiral Balloons section, above.

Yo-yo Balloons

  • Yo-yo balloons are thick-walled, small, round balloons that are filled 1/2 and 1/2 with water and air. There is a rubber string attached to the nozzle so the balloon bounces up and down like a yo-yo. I saw a service organization selling them for $1 a piece as fast as they could make them.
  • You can buy Yo-Yo balloons directly from Suzuki latex, but their minimum is pretty high. (5000?) You can get them from All American Balloon Supply (714) 543-2255. The price is $75.00 for 500, or $20.00 for 100. The piston pump is $4.50 – and definitely worth it if you are making a lot. There is also a clip that you use to seal them, rather than tying them off. The clip tool is $2.50, and the clips are $3.00 per 100. The clips are invaluable – don’t try to make more than 10 without the clips.
  • I have been doing the yo-yos for a couple of years, and they sell great at $1.00. I have also put the 2′ glow sticks into them, and tried to get $2.00. Sometimes they sell great, other times – not so well. The additional problem with the glow sticks yo-yo is that you can’t make them more than about an hour in advance.
  • When we have sold them, we have filled a great big tub with them, and set it on a low table, so the kids could pick out their color. We also fill some with more water for little kids (it bounces easier with less effort on their part), and some with less for bigger kids (less chance of the elastic breaking when they throw it around). There is also a 4-color cardboard display unit that you can buy from All American – it’s nice.
  • You can make these up weeks in advance and store them in a cool place. The key to selling them seems to be to play with them as you’re standing there. Get some into the hands of the carnival organizers, and let people see them being played with. They’ll come rushing to find you. Also, they can be imprinted, which would make nice goody bag stuffers for party entertainers. Or, you could get them imprinted with the name of a store or mall, and use them as an add-on sale to your Grand Opening clients.

Balloon types: by letter

“I (T. Myers) started using the first letter of the manufacturer after the 260 to help describe the balloons in my catalog. I think the term ‘260Q’ was first published in my catalog.” The only brand to officially adopt Tom’s system is Qualatex. Since the other brands are popularly, however unofficially, reffered to by letter, here is the slang. Additionally, some manufacturers will use the letter to describe how thick the balloon is (as an indicator of strength and difficulty to inflate).

  • A, E and W This was Ashland’s lettering system.
  • B stands for Qualatex’s Bee balloon (Q321B)
  • D stands for a balloon imported by Granger, called an EZ Blow, which they designated as a ‘D‘. The D designation alluded to the thicknes, they were reportedly very easy to mouth-inflate and had a soft vinyl feel. EZ Blow disappeared in the early 90’s.
  • P stands for Prestige (i.e., 260P, 360P)
  • Q stands for Qualatex (i.e., 160Q)
  • S for Superior
  • T for Tilly
  • U for Unique

SKB 3/3/96
SKB 3/8/96
LM 1/29/97
SKB 3/10/97
MB 6/17/97
MM 6/25/99
SKB 3/15/00

Wait, don’t go away – there’s more! Additional material for this chapter has been saved from posts on the mailing lists. Rather than keeping it hidden away, it has been temporarily placed here until the guide editors get a chance to move it to its proper location in this chapter. Feel free to make use of it.