The Original Kazoo Co.
After more than a century, this Eden, New York, company’s small original kazoos are still made here using the same 18-step process.
If you can hum, you can play the kazoo. That simplicity is one reason this small musical instrument has remained so popular, particularly with children and seniors, for more than a century. In fact, according to a trivia wall inside the Original Kazoo Co. factory, there are an estimated 15,000 kazoo bands across the U.S. today.
Opened in 1916, the Original Kazoo Co. is located about half an hour from Buffalo, New York. It began as a metal workshop in 1907, before a pair of wooden kazoo-makers, Emil Sorg and Michael McIntyre, stopped in and joined forces with the facility’s owner, Harry Richardson, to produce the instruments out of metal.
More than 100 years later, the company’s small original kazoos are still made here using the same 18-step process on the original factory’s equipment. The company — now owned by SASi, a nonprofit that provides meaningful employment for individuals with special needs — ships thousands of kazoos a year in a variety of shapes to customers worldwide.
Each week, on days the factory is operating, visitors can see firsthand how the sheet metal is cut, shaped, coated, assembled and capped. Six days a week, the factory offers both guided and self-guided tours through its museum, which includes original prototypes and historic artifacts, like a saxophone-shaped kazoo made for the Chicago World’s Fair in the 1930s.
Both children and adults can create their own kazoos, working with a staff member to perform the assembly steps to turn two rounded metal plates, a resonator and a cap into a joyful musical instrument. 8703 S. Main St., Eden, New York 14057, 716/992-3960, originalkazoocompany.com