A Brief History of The Rabbit

For a topic that's still taboo in many circles, there are few sex toys as easily recognizable as the Rabbit. Popularized in mainstream culture with Sex and the City, the one-two punch toy is famous for internal and external stimulation at the same damn time. But how did this toy come to be? Here, a brief history of the Rabbit.

1983: The Advent of Animal Vibrators

Vibratex.com

Sex toy company Vibratex becomes the first to bring dual-action vibrators (with internal and external components) to the U.S, says the company's owner, Shay Martin. Because the toys were made in Japan, the devices were shaped to look like animals and came in bright colors as to circumvent the country's laws surrounding "obscenity." (Other companies made their products in China, which didn't have the same restrictions, making these happier, friendlier alternatives to the standard vein-y penis dildo appealing to the ladies.)

Martin believes the cute factor of the Rabbit Pearl to be one of the reasons for its eventual success. Prior to Vibratex’s many pink toys, most sex toys came from China and had “the unappetizing color of uncooked hotdogs.”

In '83, the Beaver, the Kangaroo, and the Turtle (now defunct) debuted, and they all had an internal, penis-like component, along with different types of ticklers for external stimulation.

Interestingly enough, Martin notes that during this time, a now defunct company called Ben Wa allegedly knocked off some of Vibratex’s dual action vibrators, but not the Rabbit Pearl. Instead, Ben Wa focused their efforts on copying the Beaver vibrator, thinking that would’ve been the better seller. Little did they know, the one item they didn’t try to knock off would wind up being such a household name.

While the following toys aren’t made by Vibratex, here are some examples of what beaver, kangaroo, and turtle toys look like:

AMAZON

Buy Now Jelly Eager Beaver, PIPEDREAM (Available on Amazon), $20

Kangaroovibes.com

Buy Now Kangaroo Rabbit, KANGAROO, $100

AMAZON

Buy Now Wet Turtle Waterproof Vibrator, GOLDEN TRIANGLE (Available on Amazon), $30

1984: The Rabbit Debuts

Vibratex.com

The designers at Vibratex had been working on a new vibrator that featured revolutionary rotating pearls in the shaft for added stimulation. They settled on a rabbit as the animal for toy, since the rabbit is a lucky charm in Japan, and in honor of Martin, who was born in the year of the rabbit on the Chinese calendar. Sales of the toy were strong when it debuted, but the Rabbit Pearl–the very first rabbit vibrator–didn't have widespread notoriety…yet.

Soon after, Susan Colvin and her team at adult magazine and novelty distribution company CPLC developed their version of the toy called the Jack Rabbit.

The first ever Jack Rabbit in the 80s
Courtesy of CalExotics

1993: Early Adopters and Innovations

Famed sex shop Babeland opened its doors in Seattle this year and began selling the Rabbit Pearl from the very beginning, says store co-founder Claire Cavanah. In 1997, the store opened its New York City location and began offering the next model of the toy, the Rabbit Habit, which had its battery pack and controls in the base of the toy, rather than a separate attachment. This was kind of a big deal when you think about how annoying it would be to have a cord flapping around–and potentially getting tangled–while you're trying to get yourself off.

GoodVibrations.com

Buy Now Rabbit Pearl, VIBRATEX (Available at Good Vibrations), $84

1994: Rabbit Fever

When CPLC disbanded in 1994, Susan Colvin purchased a small portion of the company called Swedish Erotica and renamed it as CalExotics. Susan brought the design of their Jack Rabbit toy to CalExotics.

1998: Rabbit, Meet Charlotte

Wanting to tie-in some kind of vibrator in an upcoming episode of Sex and the City, representatives from HBO visited The Pleasure Chest in New York City to find out what the store's best-selling vibrator was. They were told, the Rabbit Pearl, obviously, and soon the teams at HBO and Vibratex connected. HBO sent Vibratex the script for the episode to make sure the toy was depicted properly. In "The Turtle and the Hare," which first aired on August 2, Miranda lends Charlotte her Rabbit, rendering Charlotte unwilling to leave the house. And thus, the Rabbit Pearl became as coveted as Carrie's Manolos.

Martin says they received a letter from HBO asking if they could use their Rabbit Pearl in a scene and reassured them that the show would not use the Rabbit Pearl in a way that would reflect poorly on the product. Since Martin and her husband did not have HBO at the time, they didn’t even see it when they aired. It wasn’t until a retailer of theirs sent them a VHS tape of the episode so they could watch the famous episode.

Babeland.com

Buy Now Rabbit Habit, VIBRATEX (Available at Babeland), $90

1999: Sex Toys Go Viral

AdamandEve.com

Copycat rabbits started cropping up immediately as sex companies rushed to capitalize on the buzz (heh) surrounding the Sex and the City episode, creating toys with the same dual-action innovation and recognizable bunny-eared shape. But the Rabbit's crazy success can also be attributed to the beginning of online shopping, which completely changed the sex toy industry by making vibrator buying discreet. Sales soared for sexy products overall, but UK-based adult toy store Ann Summers reported that it sold one million Rabbits in just 12 months when it started its dot com.

2005: A-List Endorsement

GettyGetty Images

Then-Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria further upped the Rabbit's cred by mentioning her love for the toy in a 2005 interview with SELF. "I give Rabbit vibrators to all my girlfriends," she had said. "They scream when they unwrap it. The best gift I can give them is an orgasm." (Her praise for the device boosted Babeland's sales of the toy alone 30 percent.)

2006: The Big O

ABC

In June 2006, the Rabbit Habit got the magic fairy dust of solidified success (i.e. Oprah's stamp of approval) when it was billed in O, the Oprah Magazine as the "Rolls Royce of sex toys." Baller.

2006: Need a Hand?

This 124-page guide–which helpfully came with free lube–was designed to inspire women to get the most out of their Rabbits with tips on finding your "blended orgasm," using the vibe for nipple-play, and introducing your toy to your partner.

2006: The (Pseudo) Hollywood Treatment

Rabbit Fever, a little-known UK mockumentary, "followed" the lives of so-called Rabbit Addicts, as in women who found the world's best-selling vibe so addictive that they literally couldn't stop using it. Unfortunately, The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw gave the film one out of five stars, calling it "tacky and depressing," while the BBC found the depictions of female masturbation "embarrassingly inadequate." What a buzz kill, man.

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2008: A Chic Makeover

Stylish sex toy company Jimmyjane added the "Iconic Rabbit" to its lineup of sleek sex toys, borrowing the original Vibratex design but manufacturing the toy all in white. This shiny new Rabbit became part of the company's "Usual Suspects" line, which features the best of the best from other sex companies but with Jimmyjane's elegant spin.

2008: Kill the Rabbit

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Alabama Attorney General Troy King announced that he was going to single-handedly enforce his state's "official" sex toy ban, which no doubt would have affected the Rabbit, the top-selling toy of the time. King, who's a Republican (surprise, surprise...), believed that sex toys were immoral and it was his duty to arrest–yes, really–anyone who used them. In response, former Alabama gubernatorial candidate Loretta Nall started a counter-campaign called Toys for Troy, which encouraged women to mail their vibrators and dildos directly to the attorney general's office. In. Yo. Face.

2009: Take Your Rabbit To-Go

Savvy, jet-setting types could finally take their solo sex acts on the road with the new Rabbit Dancer, a mini version of the original rabbit that comes with a detachable rabbit for compact storage. Though, its small size doesn't mean some clueless TSA agent won't fish it out of your bag for further examination.

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2015: Different Levels of Rabbit

In 2015, CalExotics revamps the packaging of the Jack Rabbit so users can easily identify the different models. There were starter, immediate, advanced, and pro levels.

Starter
Courtesy of CalExotics

Buy Now Jack Rabbit Original Rotating Shaft, CALEXOTICS (Available on Amazon), $25

Intermediate
Courtesy of CalExotics

Buy Now Jack Rabbit One Touch, CALEXOTICS (Available on Amazon), $6

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Advanced
Courtesy of CalExotics

Buy Now Jack Rabbit Thrusting Orgasm, CALEXOTICS (Available on Amazon), $40

Pro
AMAZON

Buy Now Rechargeable Rotating Jack Rabbit, CALEXOTICS (Available on Amazon), $40

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2017: The Rabbit Today

Lisa Finn, Brand Manager for Babeland, says that the biggest updates she’s seen to the Rabbit in the last five years can be seen through the materials and motor. It’s becoming more and more common to see Rabbits coated in non-porous silky silicone. Newer rechargeable Rabbits are not only better for the environment and longevity of the toy, but also allow more functionality with the motor through thrusting, and G-spot “rocking” motions.

GoodVibrations.com

Buy Now Thrusting Rabbit, CALEXOTICS (Available on GoodVibes.com), $126

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GoodVibrations.com

Buy Now Rocking Rabbit, CALEXOTICS (Available on GoodVibes.com), $126

The classic Rabbit ears for clitoral stimulation have been worked into design elements in other toys like penis rings, bullet vibrators, and even attachments for other popular toys:

Lovehoney.com

Buy Now Fifty Shades Freed Vibrating Penis Ring, LOVEHONEY, $60

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AMAZON

Buy Now Rabbit Bullet Vibrator, JE JOUE (Available on Amazon), $65

AMAZON

Buy Now Bangin' Bunny Magic Wand Attachment, WAND CANDY (Available on Amazon), $10

And of course, new iterations of the Rabbit itself are coming out every day. A cursory Amazon search will net you Rabbits that thrust, heat up, rotate 360 degrees, and even simulate oral sex.

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AMAZON

Buy Now Multi Speed Thrusting Rabbit, LEPO (Available on Amazon), $13

AMAZON

Buy Now Rabbit Vibrator, LYPS (Available on Amazon), $20

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AMAZON

Buy Now Heating Rabbit Vibrator, HUNGRYCADY (Available on Amazon), $22

AMAZON

Buy Now Clit Vibrator 2-in-1 Oral Sex Stimulator, PROXOXO (Available on Amazon), $29

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This article was originally published in 2013 and has since been updated.

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