As a child growing up in Westwood, Don Poynter showed an early interest for making things. A hint of his future surfaced at age 11, when he began making and selling remote-control toy tanks and working cannons. He started inventing novelty items in earnest in the 1950s, at a time when Kenner Products made Cincinnati a center for toy manufacturing and Hugh Hefner and others were jazzing up American popular culture. "World War II was over, and people had money and were feeling good," Poynter says. "They wanted to laugh and have fun."
So from the 1940s into the 2000s, Don Poynter dreamed up things which were humorous, sometimes slightly naughty, and occasionally downright bizarre. Poynter Products had several home bases, most notably a Gest Street warehouse in the West End, and employed as many as 30 people in packaging, assembly, shipping, and national sales. Parts were often imported from overseas, and some specialized manufacturing was contracted out. Don himself sold directly to national retailers, including catalog companies.
Capitalizing on the 1960s TV series The Addams Family for example, he created The Thing mechanical coin box in which a hand emerged from inside to grab and pull back a coin. Don said it sold 14 million units.
His breakthrough novelty item was whiskey-flavored toothpaste, including bourbon, rye and scotch.
Poynter recalls how he got a $10,000 loan to produce the product from a University of Cincinnati fraternity brother who worked at his father's bank. "A couple days later, his father asked, 'What does Poynter want with $10,000? Is he buying a house?' He says, 'No, he's making whiskey-flavored toothpaste.'"
Several sought-after and rare Poynter Products include:
What's your Poynter Products worth? Here are some recently sold items.
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