Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Pisttt- Why God Really Created Hair Spray

Posted by todblog on December 20, 2009

December 11, 2009

It’s an American tradition to grow up enjoying a nice juicy burger with a side of french fries. Take that tradition and add a boy’s fascination with launching things in the air and you’ve got the makings of a potato gun (much easier than launching a cow in the air). If you do a search on YouTube, you’ll find hundreds of videos on how to make a potato gun, spud gun/cannon/launcher, etc.  It seems that it is somewhat a rite of passage for many young kids with ignorant or cool parents (depending if the parents have knowledge of it’s construction or not).

First stop, Sherm’s Thunderbird Grocery Store for a large sack of good quality Idaho spuds.

Next stop, Lowe’s Home Improvement Store for black sewer pipe and fittings. As we walked down the plumbing section picking out parts and pieces, a store employee came by and asked if we were finding everything okay. With a slight hesitation in our response, the Lowe’s lady with the red vest saw what items were in our possession and said, “looks like you’re making a potato gun, aren’t you?”

We looked at each other and smiled. I thought to myself- is it that obvious and popular of a thing to build that the Lowe’s lady knows? I answered, “Yeah, we’re making something like that.”

She smiled at us and said a lot of people come to Lowe’s to get their potato gun parts. I wondered why they didn’t have that listed on the Saturday Do-It-Yourself Demonstration Schedule near the front entrance of the store. Still, I believed her as her eyes twinkled at us. I also wondered if she was an FBI informant and would be placing a monitoring device on our pipe and plumbing parts. From that day on, I would have to keep my eyes open for the black-windowed van cruising the neighborhood…

Stop #3, Bi-Mart Store (just like Long’s Drugs only better, they sell guns and ammo too!) for a Coleman lantern spark igniter and some fuel. I walked down the camping section aisle and found the spark igniter. All we needed now was the propellant to sail those spuds on high. Where would that be in Bi-Mart? Just a couple of aisles away from Sporting Goods in the Cosmetics section. It was on the hair products shelf- shampoo, creme rinse,…ah, hairspray. Aqua Net to be sure. There was only one can left on the shelf and an older woman with stiff poofy hair was homing in on my spot in the aisle… She would have to shop elsewhere or settle on using the White Rain hair products as a close substitute.

I wondered if the cashier would recognize the telltale ingredients as I placed them on the check-out counter. Would she ask me the same question as the Lowe’s lady. I suddenly realized that’s why they sell miscellaneous items on the rack nearby the check-out, it’s to help conceal the real reason people buy things. So, I grabbed a pack of gum and tossed it on the counter next to the spark igniter. Apparently it worked, she was clueless or at least she pretended to be so as she rang our bill up and asked, “Did you find everything okay today?”

I thought about telling her that Bi-Mart needed to expand their selection of plumbing parts and start selling potatoes, only then would I have found everything okay. “Yes, I found just what I was looking for thank you.”

A couple of days later we had everything cut, glued, screwed and assembled to make a seven foot long potato launcher. It was a good exercise for Jacob as he utilized his knowledge of math and chemistry to develop the most efficient dimensions (with the materials we had) to send a spud skyward.

Jacob walked down the street with his new creation and a large dark van pulled-up alongside him and slowed down. The lady inside asked, “Is that a potato gun?” It was the UPS van delivering packages in the neighborhood and I guess she had seen her share of potato guns and apparently the large black pipe in a boys hands is a dead give-away.

Recently, at my office Christmas party, Santa visited and delivered gifts to all the kids. He had a special gift for Jacob- a sack of potatoes. Funny how he always knows what the kids want for Christmas.

It was another fun father-son project and another great reason why we live in the country where occasional loud booms and screams of “Whoa, did you see that!” are not uncommon.

Here are some pictures of my spud buddy’s adventure…

The completed potato launcher

Loading the potato

Ramming the potato down the barrel

View of the chamber (potato loaded in background)

Loading the hair spray into the chamber

Friendly competition with our friends the Shorts

Touching one off and watching it GO!!!

Plenty of ammo!

Where did my sister go…


18 Responses to “Pisttt- Why God Really Created Hair Spray”

  1. John W. said

    Classic Tod, I used to do the same with soda cans and old tennis balls(couldn’t get a good seal with rice)


  2. ning mcgill said

    hi, tod.

    looks like fun – jacob looks happy.

    house looks good, that IS your house isn’t it, in the background?? or is it the shorts’?

    love you guys, xoxo, mom


  3. Taj said

    I heard that John Appleseed did his planting the same way when he got to old to walk up the hills. His wife never had poofy hair.
    Great story, thanks and Merry Christmas to you and the family.


  4. Beets said

    My kids would think they died and went to boy heaven if we brought them to Oregon to make potato guns with Uncle Tod! I only take issues with your saying that there is a drug store better than Longs. Then again, my children may disagree. Guns and ammo good!

    Missing you and your family this Christmas. Have a great holiday!


  5. Bea Kikawa said

    I’m learning a lot reading your blogs. This was fun. I wonder if my grandkids here have made one.



  6. Keith said

    if the police/conservation officer shows up, call it a “feeder” instead of a potato gun.


  7. Gary Lewis said

    the girls had a bit of potato cannon envy this morning. not healthy after church.


  8. Aunty Florence said

    Good pictures, TOD.
    You are a great father.

    The ultimate of God’s blessings to you and the family.

    proud aunty


  9. Mark said


    Another great story with pictures. I just have a couple of questions:
    1) Why Aqua Net? Better boom?
    2) Who won the competition?
    3) Did you find the optimum fuel/air/distance mixture?
    4) Can you post better BOOM pictures?

    You’re a fun guy.

    Happy and safe Holidays to you all.


  10. Brad said

    Hey, I want a turn too. Cody’s gonna love this.

    Happy Holidays!


  11. Orlando Oxiles "Ox" said

    Aloha Lums,
    The contraption looks way better than first envisioned.
    How much recoil? What is the estimated average range or distance? Looks like fun.
    Mahalo for sharing!

    Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou!


  12. Tamara said

    Looks like tons of fun. Great photos, we want to come visit and make mashed taters:) Hope you all have a very merry christmas. You’re an awesome dad.


  13. cassie w. said

    That looks soo cool! We will have to try it out next time we come to visit you guys.

    Merry Christmas!


  14. Cousin Madeleine said

    Thanks for sharing the special rites that could only belong to father and son. I guess mangos would be messy. I’m wondering what you may have used in Gung Gung’s back yard? I have a feeling Uncle Ed would have been right there with you.

    Merry Christmas!

    Cousin Madeleine


  15. cousin Karen said

    Dear Tod and Jeanine,

    ‘Love reading your stuff. My girls would so enjoy a potato gun.


    p.s. sorry to say CVS took over Longs. It’s not the same in my view. Dad/Uncle Ed loved Longs. He’d push the shopping cart and fill it up with chicken broth, vienna sausage, canned corn beef etc.


  16. Donelle said

    Such the writer of the family. Someday you just might have to publish some of your blogs so the that the family can each have a part of your family’s fun times with DAD.

    Happy New Year to all of you.



  17. Linda Ingram said

    Hey Lums, Greetings from Florida! Loved the story, we Ingrams know all about potato guns raising three boys who loved to blow things up etc… our Hungarian Vizsla was totally obscessed with the gun and would wait in a point position not moving a muscle till the next potato was shot, her favorite thing ever chasing potatoes! Had some near misses with hitting cars going by so we decided we better tone it down a bit and starting shooting them towards the river! Watch out boaters! Miss you guys!


  18. Bob Hera said

    Hate to be the other side of the coin. Saw it on the tube last nite. Guess being from the old school I thought it was a waste of good potatoes. But, you guys have fun anyway. Aloha, Bob..


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