Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm

Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm

Today, we take a look back at a true classic, an educational toy that lives and breaths and burrows and scurries. For over fifty years, kids have stared intently through the clear plastic walls of their formicarium (the scientific term for ant farm), as their new ant friends labor intensively to construct a sand-tunneled utopia.

The Ant Farm was the brain child of Milton Levine, a WWII Veteran who got his start in the toy industry by producing plastic prizes for Cracker Jack. He found great success with two other products he produced, plastic army men and potato guns, but it was the ant farm that was dearest to his heart. As a young child, he was fascinated by the little critters. Later in life, he was at a picnic and found himself yet again enthralled by the busy creatures.

In 1956, Milton created an inexpensive plastic enclosure so that young tykes could watch the ants burrow and build in their sandy surroundings through the clear walls. The box included the farm, instructions, sand and a coupon to send away for the future inhabitants. Once they arrived a few weeks later, you simply put the ant vial in the fridge for a little while to slow them down, then dumped them inside the ant fart. Once they warmed a little, they got to work creating their impressive underground civilization and you had a front row seat.

Uncle Milton assumed his creation was a fad that would last a few years at most. Instead, it was lucrative and lasting business. Over half a century later, the original version of the Ant Farm is still sold in toy stores, along with the new Ant Farm Gel Colony and Illuminated Ant Farm Gel Colony. Instead of having to feed these ants, the gel itself is actually a food source for the insects.

See for yourself:

With over 20 million Ant Farms sold, Uncle Milton’s Ant Farms are still going strong after all these years, although Uncle Milton sadly passed away at the age of 97 in 2001. His legacy, however, continues to amaze us thanks to this unique look into the daily lives and habits of ants.

Are you the proud former owner of an Ant Farm? Have any fond recollections you would like to share (or even horror stories, if you’ve got them)? Share your Uncle Milton Ant Farm memories with all of us in our comments section, as we tip our collective caps to one of our favorite uncles!

3 Responses to “Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm”

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  1. amberosia says:

    My son got one for a birthday gift about 6 years ago. We sent away for the ants, but they never came.

  2. Jennifer harris says:

    My bro and I never had this.

  3. Ron R says:

    Had one of these. If you could find the queen ant, you could forego the ones that came with it. It was also fun to create one’s own ant farm out of a large jar or other glass receptacle. Learnt much about how ants behave “playing” with one of these. It also led to making glass jar homes for other insects. Had a Praying Mantis living in a jar as well. These made the study of insects very interesting as a young person learning about insect behavior.

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