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Did South Florida Invent the Foam Finger?

If you watched much of the Vikings-Cardinals game last night (it wasn't much of a game), you probably saw this week's installment of Toyota's "Great Moments in Tailgating History." The topic: the origin of the giant foam finger.

The legend, according to the entertaining reenactment, is that the foam finger came about at the 1966 Orange Bowl, when a man named Jorge Acosta "injured his right index finger in an altercation with the trunk of a car. To avoid swelling, Jorge wrapped his hand in a bandanna and elevated high in the air, all the while wailing in pain."

The skit was too funny to be completely true. But if you're like me, you wondered if it was actually based on any kind of real story. Who would be surprised to learn that giant foam fingers were invented in South Florida in a drunken accident? (Isn't that how George Bush got elected?)

So this morning, I did a little research (research early in the morning = Google search) on this topic. The truth is, the foam finger was apparently created by

Geral Fauss, a former high school shop teacher from Cypress, Texas. He made it in 1978 for the state football playoffs. The original model was made of plywood and was much too heavy. The next model, made of cardboard, was too fragile.

Where Toyota's creative team got Miami out of the whole deal -- or why they chose South Florida out of the blue -- remains a mystery. But where the foam finger came from does not.

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Michael J. Mooney

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