When you think Western New York the word “kazoo” may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Many of you may not even know that they are made right here.
It’s the most famous song played by this unique instrument. Jingle Bells can be heard around the world played on a kazoo made right here in Western New York.
Karen Smith, owner of Kazoo Boutique, told News 4, “When people come, we ask them to put a pin in the map so we can visit with them and find out where they’re from and why they came to Kazoo. This year our map has every single state and 16 places around the world.”
Some of the farthest places include Singapore, Italy, and even England. As simple as it sounds, the story of the kazoo is far from it. It has a history that dates back to the early 1900’s. Smith stated, “It started out as a sheet metal plant, so they made stove pipes and stove parts. By 1916 the people down in Macon, Georgia where kazoos where being made out of wood, wanted to make them out of metal. So they hooked up with the people here in Eden.”
From that point forward the factory in Eden has been used. They still have the original pulley and lever system. It’s all run by electricity from Niagara Falls unlike many other factories from back in the day.
It takes 18 steps in total to recreate this original kazoo, but at the factory in Eden, they have many more options for you to choose from. The options include an ear of corn kazoo, fitting because Eden is the home to the corn festival. Smith said, “We said we live in Eden, we grow corn, we have the corn festival, and kazoos are a little corny so we need a corn kazoo!”
Smith, the owner of the store, tells me the popularity of kazoos has declined greatly since ‘the good ol days’ and the development of technology. She said, “ At one point, this factory was running 3 different shifts.”
Now, Smith thinks interest in all things retro has peaked, bringing a bit of a resurgence back to the factory. Tammy Tomaszewski, operations manager of the factory, told News 4, “We make about 30,000 kazoos a year. Sometimes a little bit more. It just depends on the orders.”
The Kazoo Factory is a cheap adventure you can bring your kids to during the long winter season Buffalo has. Smith said, “We get bus loads of seniors and kids alike and everybody likes to make their own kazoo on the make your own kazoo machine.”