There was a Waring behind the blender, a Land behind the Polaroid camera, a Hoover behind at least one brand of vacuum, a Ford behind the car.

But who do you thank every time you zip a zipper, wrap cellophane around your sandwich, flash of neon or curse the parking meter? Their godfathers were hardly household names.

And every Saturday night, at lodges and church halls across America, where faces hunch over checkered cards and quiver with delight when theirs comes home a winner, who remembers an unsung New York toymaker who heard that first exuberant shout of "BINGO!" and pioneered the game as an American pastime?

Why not play a game in memory of Edwin S. Lowe, eulogized yesterday in New York, a Polish immigrant turned traveling toy salesman who in 1929 sniffed a curious game of chance at a Georgia roadside carnival and smelled a winner?

He died Sunday at 76, the grandfather of Bingomania, who got very rich pushing his American dream into the hearts and minds of 50 million game players who today cannot live without it.

For almost half a century, children learned their numbers with Bingo.

"Every mother bought a game," said Lowe in an interview last year. He spoke by telephone. It was a story he'd told many times, but you could still hear the excitement in his voice when asked about the roots of America's bingo madness.

He remembered The Moment. It was dark, on some lonely stretch of tobacco road outside Atlanta, and he was the young kid dispatched into the toughest sales territory around: the Depression Era South. He parked his Nash Ajax to wander about a darkened midway.

Only one booth was alive with smiles and whoops. Patrons stood in line to buy crude numbered cards for a nickel and cover them with beans: Beano. The prize: a Kewpie doll. He had to wait for a seat to open up.

Later, he said, the operator confessed to swiping the idea from a carnival in Germany, where he'd marveled at a lotto-style game. But he couldn't come up with more than 12 cards and 12 combinations.

Lowe brought the idea back to New York, invited friends over and pulled numbers from a cigar box, instructing all to shout "Beano" if their card was a winner. But one young woman "got so excited," he recalled, "that she started to stutter and said 'BBBBBBBBBBINGO!' From that moment on, I said, 'This game will be called 'Bingo.' "

He set about figuring out how to popularize it, and he worked up a 24-card game for the home parlor. It retailed for $2 and caught on.

"God bless you," said a priest. But his games were so packed that there were too many winners. He begged Lowe to come up with more combinations.

Lowe deputized a Columbia University mathematician, who nearly went "insane" conjuring numbers. He came up with 6,000 combos -- without a computer -- and the game took off.

Lowe hired and fired more than 40 lawyers to try to protect his trademark, then gave up. A judge ruled that Bingo was Americana: too popular to protect. So Lowe tossed in the towel and licensed it for $1 to all comers. He cranked up 220 printing presses to turn out cards around the clock.

Soldiers played it, along with Yahtzee, another game that he popularized, and snapped up his miniature chess and checkers sets -- and Edwin S. Lowe got very, very rich. He bought land, built hotels in Las Vegas, snapped up radio stations, produced movies and Broadway plays. In 1973 he sold out to Milton Bradley for $26 million.

"Bingo was always the flagship of my company," he said.