On Christmas Day in 1965, Sherman Poppen began tinkering in his garage in Muskegon, Michigan, and in the process invented an entirely new winter sport.
To entertain his young daughters, he took a pair of children’s snow skis and bound them together to make a single, wide board. He was thinking, as he explained later in his patent application, of a “new snow sport which incorporates features of certain summer pastimes, namely surfboarding, skate boarding, and slalom water skiing.” Delighted with her husband’s invention, Nancy Poppen called the new toy “Snurfer,” a contraction of “snow surfer.”
Poppen went on to patent his invention (#3,378,274), and he licensed his creation to Brunswick Corporation of Lake Forest, Illinois. Within a year, Snurfers were flying off store shelves, just in time for Christmas. Snowboarding sure has come a long way from its Snurfer roots to the X Games and Olympics.
The Snurfer is still in production today, and almost nothing has changed.