A rubber duckie is a small duck made out of rubber. Modern rubber duckies are usually bright yellow, hollow, and have a squeaker that squawks when you squeeze the duck. They are traditional children's bath toys, although surprisingly few are actually designed to float right-side-up, preferring instead to float on their side or even up-side-down. They are also enjoying a period of unaccustomed coolness at the moment, in various counter-culture designs. These include a range of devil ducks (rubber ducks in various colors growing little devil horns) and dead ducks (in proper gothic black).

The origin of rubber duckies is not known, although they are at least a century old. The first duckies were made of solid rubber, and probably were not much fun. The rubber duckie was launched to stardom in the 1970s when Ernie on Sesame Street introduced his favorite toy (and by some accounts best friend, although he had to share this title with Bert), Rubber Duckie. Rubber Duckie's song, as sung by Ernie, is one of the best known songs from Sesame Street.

Rubber Duckie
Written by Jeff Moss

Oh, Rubber Duckie, you're the one,
You make bathtime lots of fun,
Rubber Duckie, I'm awfully fond of you.
Voo voo voo di-o

This first verse gives us the reason for the song, and probably the entire reason for Rubber Duckie's existence: Bathtime is Lots of Fun. The song is actually introduced by Ernie explaining that he is all ready for his bath; he had his soap and his washcloth -- but don't be fooled! Bathtime is not a unpleasant task like doing your chores. Bathtime has toys! This entire song is actually a cleverly disguised piece of grown-up propaganda.

Rubber Duckie, joy of joys,
When I squeeze you, you make noise!
Rubber Ducky, you're my very best friend, it's true!

A clear lie; Bert has been repeatedly confirmed as Ernie's best friend. Ah well. Anyway, the Children's Television Workshop had an interesting challenge with this clip. Ernie has to appear on camera taking a bath. They did this by building a 'bathtub' with no bottom, with the muppeteer squatting underneath. While the muppet couldn't actually get wet, he could be covered with sudsy soap, and he could have a scrub brush and other bathtime props. The foley artist also went to town with the water sound effects.

Oh, Every day when I
Make my way to the tubby
I find a little fella who's
Cute and yellow and chubby
Rub-a-dub-a-dubby!

If you are American and had anything like a normal childhood, you've heard this song so many times that you don't really need to read the lyrics. Even if you came of age before the 1970s you probably heard it on the radio, as Rubber Duckie reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in September of 1970 (it first aired on February 25th, 1970). It got a bit more radio play, in odd form, when the German version, Quietscheentchen was redone as a Techno remix in 2002.

Rubber Duckie, you're so fine
And I'm lucky that you're mine
Rubber duckie, I'm awfully fond of you.

There is a interlude here, where Ernie talks to his duckie, and plays at giving him a bath. This is included in the original version and every version sung by Ernie thereafter, including the most recent remake (2000). All of Ernie's covers are remarkably the same (except for his 1982 a capella version when he and Bert were exploring a pyramid), but when others cover Rubber Ducky they often skip the monologue in the middle, as when Little Richard sang it in 1994.

Every day when I
Make my way to the tubby
I find a little fella who's
Cute and yellow and chubby
Rub-a-dub-a-dubby!

Rubber Duckie has actually been a dual role. The public face of Rubber Duckie has changed over the years, as various rubber ducks have come and gone. Some of these ducks have looked quiet different from each other, changing in color, size, amount of detail, and other features. However, one thing has remained the same; Rubber Ducky has always had the same voice. Jeff Moss, who also wrote the song, has squeaked Rubber Ducky in every recorded version of the song, and it has always been the same duck. Apparently, he has never been able to find another duck with the appropriate squeak.

Rubber Duckie, you're so fine
And I'm lucky that you're mine
Rubber duckie, I'm awfully fond of -
Rubber duckie, I'd like a whole pond of -
Rubber duckie I'm awfully fond of you!

There have been other songs featuring Rubber Ducky, such as when Hoots the Owl sings Put Down the Duckie, or when The Count, Telly, Kermit, and others help Ernie sing Do the Rubber Duck. There was also a Spanish version of Rubber Duckie, El Patito, with Latin music. Rubber Ducky also appears in numerous sketches. Rubber Duckie will occasionally squeak in place of 'talking', but he is always clearly Ernie's toy, and is not 'alive'.

Most of the songs mentioned here can be found easily on YouTube.com

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