Although originally developed by the military, glow sticks became available to the general public in the 1980s onwards.
Originally used as a safety item for emergency lighting, their low cost meant they were soon being used creatively by everyone from scuba divers looking for a waterproof and pressure-proof light source to event organisers looking for cheap novel give-aways.
As the concept took off, glow stick technology was used to create more glow in the dark items.
Glow in the dark bracelets have become particularly popular, offering all of the attributes of a glow stick but with the advantage of being hands-free.
Glow in the dark bracelets provide a liquid light source, encased in a flexible plastic tube.
They are typically five millimetres wide and around 24 cm long.
Bracelets are waterproof and the combination of chemicals inside is non-toxic and non-corrosive which makes them low-risk, even if punctured.
The light is created by manipulating the bracelet which cracks a tiny vial of chemicals inside and sparks off a chemical reaction.
The bracelet then glows for around 4-12 hours, depending on ambient temperature.
The chemical reaction produces no heat, making the bracelets comfortable to wear even next to the skin.
Bracelets come in a myriad of colours, even combining two or three colours within one wristband, they're lightweight and cheap and the appeal to children is obvious - making them wonderful stocking stuffers, event souvenirs and fashion accessories.
However, they can be used in numerous other situations.
Because this method of producing light requires no spark or heat, they are perfect for emergency situations, such as when you suspect a gas leak.
Because the light is on your wrist, you are free to use your hands.
Although the bracelets will eventually run out of light and can only be used once, they store well, especially if kept in foil-sealed containers, so can be left in an emergency kit without worrying about batteries leaking or running out.
As well as deep-sea divers, cavers and potholers are catching onto the trend for this hands-free light source.
There are also other practical uses, such as creating an impromptu night light or an easy way to locate the door in an unfamiliar bedroom.
Glow in the dark products have also allowed new versions of sports to emerge which would normally be played by day, such as golf.
The golfers wear glow in the dark bracelets so they can be seen in the dark and wrap bracelets around their clubs.
The fairway and putting holes are lit up using glow sticks.
Teams are identified by the colours of their bracelets and it's now easy to get hold of glow in the dark golf balls! For the younger generation, or just the young at heart, games of night tag for instance are also now possible with the 'tagger' wearing a different colour to the other players.
Night-time ring tosses using the bracelets with the target also lit up by a bracelet make a fun challenge.
Outside the sporting arena, the bracelets are being used widely in the performing arts, especially by dancers who often find them easier to incorporate into a routine than glow sticks which have to be hand-held.
The effect of the vibrant colours on a darkened stage is mesmerising and allows the dancer to trace their movements in the air with colour in the same way that little children write their names in the air with sparklers.
This fascination with light and the glow in the dark bracelets' ability to provide a safe, cool and colourful light source with minimal expense explains why they have become so popular at kids' events.
The multiple colours available and the low price of buying the bracelets in bulk makes them an excellent choice for fundraisers.
Parents like them too as it makes easier for both them and traffic to spot children in the dark, making them an excellent choice for Halloween and other night-time events.
It looks like the popularity of these adaptable little wrist bands will continue for a long time to come!