Black and yellow smiley face with black text on a red outer ring.
c. 1973 Swib Industries 4813 Kingston Lisle, Illinois 60532 (Suburb of Chicago) Telephone (312)968-7458
Although the act of streaking has been popular since the mid-1960s, the term "streaking" was first used in 1973. The term was coined during a mass nude run at the University of Maryland. Streaking is different from nudism, because the streaker intends to be noticed by an audience. It is also different from "flashing", in that it is not intended to shock the victim. Perhaps the most widely seen streaker in history was 34-year-old Robert Opel, who streaked across the stage flashing the peace sign on national television during the 46th Academy Awards in 1974. The high point of streaking's pop culture significance was in 1974, when thousands of streaks took place around the world. A wide range of novelty products were produced to cash in on the fad, from buttons, patches, t-shirts, etc. Ray Stevens had a novelty hit called "The Streak" and Randy Newman even had a song about streaking called "The Naked Man".
This button features a variation of the classic yellow smiley face that is comprised of a yellow circle, two black dots for eyes and a black arc ending in serifs for a mouth. It was designed in 1963 by by commercial artist, Harvey Ross Ball. Ball was commissioned by The State Mutual Life Insurance Company to create a happy face to raise the morale of their employees. His version was created in 10 minutes. The design was printed onto more than 50 million buttons. Neither Ball nor the company copyrighted this smiley, so it was continually used by other businesses in their promotions.
The design and concept is quite simple and was definitely used before Ball’s 1963 version. However his has become the most iconic. Variations have been used for advertising campaigns and in popular culture ever since.
Read more about the History of Streaking Buttons on the Busy Beaver blog.