What has changed over the years is ownership. Today, the site is operated by Suburban Adult Services Inc., a nonprofit organization serving mentally and physically disabled adults. It inherited the factory in 2002 as a donation from Robert and David Berghash, after the Berghashes sold the rights to make the standard kazoo to its largest distributor, Woodstock Percussion in New York’s Hudson Valley.
As part of the deal, the original factory stayed in Eden and is allowed to make and sell 5,000 standard kazoos a year. They sell in the gift shop for $1.99. The part-time work force of about 15 people from Suburban Adult Services spends the rest of the time making kazoo trumpets, french horns, trombones and other specialty kazoos that are sold on site and to distributors.
The deal also included rights to the name, Original American Kazoo Co., so the Eden operation became the Original Kazoo Co.
“It’s someplace I enjoy walking into,” Tony Annunziato, associate executive director of SASI, said of the shop, where more than 20 machines are run by a 10-horsepower motor spinning overhead shafts and leather belts. “It’s a nice atmosphere. You don’t see that in industry.”
The operation gets visitors and orders from around the world, including a recent request for 200 kazoos destined for an orphanage in South Africa.
“Music transcends all language and kazoo really provides that to everyone,” Smith said. “You don’t have to be a practiced musician in order to participate.”
There is a technique, albeit simple, to playing: Hum, don’t blow. Some people struggle with that, Smith said.
The key is the small circular Mylar resonator covering a hole on the top of the kazoo, which is vibrated by the humming.
“If you were to blow into a kazoo, absolutely nothing would happen,” Smith said.