Top 25 "It" products of all time: #14 -- The Livestrong wristband


Excuse me. Is that a rubber gasket on your arm, or do you just want to cure cancer? In 2004, the Livestrong wristband, the AIDS ribbon of our day, suddenly appeared on arms from coast to coast.

In 1996, champion cyclist Lance Armstrong was told he had cancer in his testicles, abdomen, lungs and brain. Undeterred, the next year he launched his Lance Armstrong Foundation, dedicated to combat the disease, and two years after that, the athlete licked his diagnosis by winning the Tour de France, qualifying him as a medical and athletic demigod. In the summer of 2004, Armstrong's Foundation capitalized on his inspirational reputation by unveiling a brilliant fund-raising tactic: stretchy yellow wristbands that, at $1 a loop, benefited cancer research and support.

John Kerry and George Bush wore them on the campaign trail, accompanied by countless celebrities, and by 2005, USA Today was reporting that 50 million of the things, or one for every six Americans, were expected to be sold, exceeding Armstrong's initial hopes to raise $25 million for his cause.

Half a decade later, it's unsurprising that the canary-yellow wristband took off so quickly. Who doesn't want to be associated with a winner? Who doesn't think cancer sucks?