An outdoor bag-toss game created by two West Islip men outperformed four other inventions on the Thanksgiving episode of Joy Mangano's USA Network sales competition "America's Big Deal," winning a $175,000 purchase order from Macy's.
"I don't think it was really about us beating out the other inventors in the sense of practicality," Anthony Pappone, 47, who was born in Freeport and raised in Babylon, tells Newsday. "I think it was that we had a really fun game that anybody can enjoy with their family. It really is a game for everybody — we were pitching to everyone in America."
On each episode, five inventors pitch their products on-air, with sales numbers determining a winner. Long Island entrepreneurial icon Mangano, representing the home-shopping networks QVC and HSN, and reps from the retail giants Lowe's and Macy's then can bid on the product for the right to distribute it.
Pappone and Carl Galian's $50 LaxySaxs, comprising two target cones that stake into the ground and four cloth sacks to toss at them — and which specifically is meant to be played sitting down — beat out personalized Christmas-tree ornaments, a shelved carrying case for fresh-baked cookies, a light-up dog harness and a sparkly slippers and headband set.
The game "was developed out of Carl's backyard," says Pappone, who lives nearby on the same street as Galian. "Basically, our houses were wiped out with [2012's Superstorm] Sandy, including all the backyard games." So at some later point when Galian was throwing an outdoor party "and he didn't have any games, he made a game using things around his house, his garage."
The nascent game gradually went through rule and design changes as the duo — Hempstead-born graphic designer and former Random House senior art director Galian, 58, and financial analyst Pappone — brainstormed.
"It started out as a standing game," Pappone says. Then one day when the two men and their families were on one of their frequent forays to Sore Thumb Beach in Robert Moses State Park, "Carl sat down in front of me with this game that we were playing standing up, and we started playing sitting down. We played for probably a year like that before we said, 'Hey, why don't we try to develop it?' "
Learning through trial and error, they eventually found PSI Molds in Bethpage to manufacture the plastic parts and Diamond Trucking in Deer Park for warehousing and shipping of bulk orders they can't fill from their own garages. And in an unexpected turn of events, the two credit a Newsday article for providing the impetus to try out for the show.
"On May 18th, I get a text message from one of my friends who was reading a Newsday article about Mangano seeking vendors for a new reality show," Pappone recalls. "And she texted it to me and I read it and I called up Carl and I'm, like, 'Hey, why don't we do this?’ And he agreed. If it wasn't for your article," he enthuses, "we would have never seen it!"