CelebriDucks Moves to Lake Wildwood
New Lake Wildwood resident Craig Wolfe spent his career creating advertising art for major corporations such as Nike, Coca Cola, and many more. One evening, at a party, Craig was chatting with a friend after a couple of cocktails and had a bolt of inspiration to make rubber ducks that look like celebrities. He contacted several manufacturing businesses, none who took him seriously, until he found one that would make him a Betty Boop themed duck. It was an instant hit, and the demand kept growing until Craig quit his day job and made CelebriDucks a full-time endeavor.
What are CelebriDucks?
CelebriDucks began as an offshoot of Craig’s original company, Name That Toon, where he developed the first ever animation art lines for Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, M&M/Mars, Pillsbury, Campbell Soup, Hershey, and many others. The company took the advertising artwork from their television commercials and developed a whole line of artwork representing some of the most beloved characters in advertising history including The Pillsbury Doughboy, The Budweiser Frogs, the Coca-Cola Polar Bears, and numerous other characters. The company grew to become the largest publisher of advertising/animation art in the country.
Craig started developing the CelebriDucks around 1997 as just a little fun side project. His daughter, Rebecca, a product design major, designed the entire line in the beginning. When the Philadelphia 76ers read about the company, they asked if CelebriDucks could create a rubber duck of superstar Allen Iverson complete with tattoos, cornrows, and earring for a stadium giveaway. “It came out extremely well and I would always joke that our rubber duckie looked more like him than he did! After the 76ers event took place, we began to receive a great deal of national and international attention. It quickly became apparent that I had to let go of one of our companies, so I made a decision to sell off the art business,” Craig recalled. “We changed our name and suddenly we became all rubber duckies! Truly the quote by John Lennon, that “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” could not have been more appropriate.”
The detail in the CelebriDucks products has made them a favorite in Hollywood, and CelebriDucks have been voted one of the top 100 Gifts by Entertainment Weekly. The company has been featured on The Tonight Show, Late Night With Conan, CNN, ABC, NBC,TNT, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, CBS Evening Magazine, The NY Times, Chicago Sun Times, The LA Times, and hundreds and hundreds of other media outlets worldwide.
They sell thousands of their Blues Brothers rubber ducks at all the House of Blues and developed the first floating Pink Flamingo for Caesars that was one of their top gift products, and even created a Parrot for Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville locations. They also create products for The NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, and the NCAA and won the ESPN poll for the fan’s favorite give-a-way. They have produced CelebriDucks of KISS, Elvis Presley, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. T, James Brown, and many others. The company is also considered the top custom duck manufacturer in the industry creating custom CelebriDucks for everyone from Harley-Davidson and SeaWorld to The New York Yankees and Jersey Boys on Broadway.
The Good Duck
Looking to the traditional rubber ducks, Craig learned that many of them were made from latex which can cause problems for young children even if they did not initially have an allergy to latex. The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Boston Children’s Hospital all avoid using latex on young children as latex allergies can develop due to repeated exposure in normal children. Some companies claim to wash out the allergen proteins in latex, but the FDA states that no latex rubber product can claim to be 100% latex allergen free.
Aside from allergies, Craig learned that there are other problems with natural latex rubber. Rubber will easily degrade and discolor over time with water use due to the fact that rubber is a very porous material which means that mold can more easily penetrate the surface of the rubber. Also, a number of rubber ducks have a hole in the bottom of the duck which makes it very hard, if not impossible, to get water out of the inside causing black mold to grow inside.
“We became convinced that there were no latex rubber ducks on the market which were safe enough for very young children to put in their mouths,” Craig said of this product’s development. “Our Good Ducks are considered by many to be some of the safest rubber ducks available and the natural choice for any newborn. All of our manufacturing, design, and 100% of the materials are made in the USA. In fact it is the only duck still being made in the USA! It is PVC Free, Phthalate Free, and BPA Free using the highest quality USA third party tested food and medical grade materials we could find. Each duck also comes in a cute gift box which is also 100% made in America. Most people are unaware that the rubber duck was actually an original American invention before the whole industry moved overseas. We are proud to be the only company making them here in the USA once again. With a rubber duck made by an American company, parents can more easily have confidence in US manufacturing without the constant safety issues with products that are manufactured elsewhere.”
The Good Duck won the BEST GREEN TOY AWARD from Dr. Stevanne Auerbach, “Dr. Toy”, one of the world’s leading authorities on children’s toys who approved the first grant for The Children’s Television Workshop, “Sesame Street” when she worked in Education for the federal government.
Loving Lake Wildwood
Craig and his closest friend and business associate, Denise, had been living in the Bay Area, but were seeking a quieter life and had fallen in love with the Lake Wildwood community. But they could not find anything suitable in which to live and run their rubber duckie empire.
Then, like magic, one day this past April, their dream home was available the day they were coming to Lake Wildwood to look at some other homes. “It had just come on the market that morning and we bought it that afternoon and never looked back. We took title the end of May,” Craig said. “We just love it here. The people are wonderful and it is just gorgeous. For me, I always wanted to get back to a lake life which I had in upstate New York as a child and honestly never thought it was going to happen. When we found this place, it was like a dream. We live right by Explorer Beach and every day for the whole summer, I would just walk out the door a couple of hundred feet to the beach and go for a swim. We moved here at the end of June and I have virtually been swimming in this gorgeous lake every day. Sometimes it is just me and the ducks swimming out there, which is quite amusing. It’s funny to have your whole life surrounded by rubber ducks and then at the end of the day you’re surrounded by real ducks swimming along side of you…it’s kind of surreal!”
To learn more about CelebriDucks, visit celebriducks.com. While you’re there, make sure to check out the brief video where Craig talks about the origin of his company.
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