Man With The Smile Rode The Pretzel A Mile" - early
Pretzel Ride took the amusement business by storm. Routinely
outgrossing all other rides on the midway, Pretzels were rapidly
being installed in nearly every fun park in the nation, and
foreign countries were also asking for them. The company's first
sales rep was Fred Fansher, who had an office on Broadway in
NYC. Other salespeople followed, with the last being Roger Haney.
Leon Cassidy purchased an abandoned
trolley barn on South Avenue in Bridgeton to use as the main
factory. A standard Pretzel ride in 1929 had five cars, 350
feet of track and gave a ride of one and a half minutes in duration.
Purchase price was $1,200.
Of course, it didn't take very
long before others sought to copy a ride that was so successful.
The Traver Engineering Company and its successor, Chambers,
marketed a similar ride under the name "Laff In The Dark",
which was a lower-cost version with wooden cars, targeted at
budget-minded parks. This ride employed dual trackwheels and
positioned the hot rail on the floor aside the main steering
track in an attempt to skirt the Pretzel patent. Cassidy initially
considered suing Traver/Chambers for infringement, but ultimately
decided, rightly, that the competition would be too insignificant
to warrant the expense of litigation.
A 1929 installation at Ramagosa's
Sportland Pier in Wildwood, NJ was actually situated in an enclosed
area beneath the pier with a ramp leading the cars down from
the main entrance on the pier's deck.
In 1930, the ride was taken to the
Canadian National Exhibition. In those days, a carnival model
dark ride was set up in a tent. For the ride at the 1930 CNE,
a 40 X 60 floor was laid down, then enclosed by a tent which
had a second inner tent or liner of black canvas to ensure darkness.
A portable vestibule and signage was then put in place outside.
The engagement was highly successful, grossing $4000 - big money