Birthplace of everyone’s favorite instrument
This is the second selection installment from public relations guru Brian Hayden’s new book, titled 111 Places in Buffalo That You Must Not Miss. Last week, we posted on The Aratat Stone. To learn more about Hayden and his new WNY travel guidebook, click here.
On a rural road 45 minutes south of Buffalo, a small factory has been churning out the only metal kazoos made in the United States for more than a century.
The village of Eden – population 7,500 – has carved out a reputation as the nation’s metal kazoo capital. Inside the Kazoo Factory, Museum and Gift Shop of Eden, patrons can explore all things kazoo. Visitors walk within feet of the factory’s original belt and pulley system powered by a 10-horsepower electric motor – the same machine that still makes the instrument today – and learn about its storied history. A gift shop up front sells kazoo-themed hats and T-shirts alongside more than 10,000 kazoos made on site each year, including variations shaped like a trombone, trumpet, French horn, and even an ear of corn that honors the town’s agricultural roots. The museum also explores the kazoo’s evolution, from its long-ago African predecessors to the apparatus most known today.
The factory that put Eden on the map for kazoos didn’t even make the instrument that it first opened in 1907. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that a traveling salesman introduced the plant management to the owners of a wooden kazoo factory in Georgia, where the instrument had originated some 70 years earlier. The connection inspired the Eden manufacturer to begin producing a metal kazoo, and demand grew to such an extent that the factory stopped making other goods. The metal kazoo, which many musicians prefer for its clearer, sharper tone, gradually eclipsed its wooden counterpart in popularity.
The not-for-profit Suburban Adult Services Inc. has operated the factory since 2002 and provides developmentally disabled adults with opportunities to learn new skills and generate income. This small-town manufacturer has stood the test of time producing the instrument that creates one of the signature sounds of Western New York.
Address: 8703 S Main Street, Eden, NY 14057, +1(716) 992-3960, www.edenkazoo.com, firstname.lastname@example.org | Getting there: By car, take US 62 S to Eden | Hours: Mon–Sat 10am–5pm, closed Jan&Feb; call for tours | Tip: Grab a meal of Chiavetta’s famous barbeque chicken to-go afterwards at the company’s nearby flagship location that dates back to the 1950s (10654 Brant-Angola Road, Brant, www.chiavettas.com).
111 Places in Buffalo That You Must Not Miss is currently available at Talking Leaves, Barnes and Noble, and the Buffalo History Museum Gift Shop, as well as Amazon.