We’re #1! The oversized foam finger that appears at sporting events across the country started as a fundraiser for a high school club in Cypress, Texas, back in 1976.
Industrial Arts Instructor Geral Fauss saw students at a school football game raising their index fingers during a chant and thought, “What if those fingers could be bigger?”
So he drew a giant hand onto a poster board and presented his idea to the members of the Industrial Arts Club, who copied the design on plywood, cut the hand shapes out, and painted the signs with the school colors, maroon and white.
At the Cy-Fair Bobcats’ championship football game that year, club members sold every one, surpassing their fundraising goal.
With that success, Fauss spent his spare time cutting out more hand signs — his idea was to drive to Dallas for the 1978 Cotton Bowl game between the University of Texas and Notre Dame, with 200 hand-shaped signs.
Within 30 minutes he had sold all the hand-shaped signs, plus 200 others created for University of Texas fans, and knew he had created a product that fans wanted.
Looking for a medium other than plywood or masonite that he had used previously, Fauss discovered that open-celled poly foam was much lighter, cost effective, and a slit could be cut into the foam for easier holding.
By 1979, he and his wife Susan left their teaching jobs to create Spirit Hands Co., offering a full array of foam hands in every color combination imaginable and sold as custom-printed fundraisers at school sporting events, just as he had with the very first hands he created.
Today, Spirit Industries is located in Montgomery, Texas, and carries a full line of school spirit products in addition to the “Original Foam #1 Hand,” which has morphed into foam claws, paws, wings, and hoofs to represent a wide variety of school animal mascots.