On This Day – March 5th

On a day much like today — and specifically on March 5, 1963 — Arthur “Spud” Melin, the co-founder of the company Wham-O, patented the Hula Hoop, one of the most popular toys to ever grace the toy market.

The hula hoop continues to be a relevant toy even today and many people have become master hula hoopers with great skill. People use the hula hoop not only to have fun, but also to exercise. Did you know that waist hooping engages 35 ab muscles? Not to mention you also engage your leg and back muscles. But waist hooping is only one of the many things you can do with a hula hoop, so it’s a versatile and super fun toy that can be used by people of all ages.

Looking back, the hula hoop was always a popular toy, making an estimate of 25 million sales in the first 4 months alone. It was an instant hit when it was introduced to the market, and that is not difficult to understand why.

Wham-O, the company that created this wonderful toy, was founded in 1948 by Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr. These two friends and business partners opened their doors in California and the first product they sold was a slingshot. In fact, the name of the company was inspired by the sound slingshots make when they’re fired. Soon enough, they started to diversify and they started to sell boomerangs and different kinds of sporting goods.

The first big hit for Wham-O was the Frisbee, which they introduced back in 1957. Fun fact about the Frisbee: it was marketed as the “Pluto Platter” with the intention of profiting from people’s fascination and obsession with UFOs.

Melin and Knerr came up with the idea of the hula hoop after seeing a couple of Australian kids in gym class twirling a wooden hoop around their waists. Soon enough, they were inspired to create their own version made of plastic and they marketed as the Hula Hoop, “Hula” being a reference to the Hawaiian dance, which is quite prominent in their culture.

When children caught on, they quickly became obsessed with the toy. When this product was introduced to the market, it became insanely popular. However, the masses don’t always have a long attention span and they soon moved onto something new. That being said, the hula hoop has never really disappeared or lost its appeal.

Many of our childhood toys have faded away, but the hula hoop still has many fans even today. People have used it to achieve great things, such as breaking Guinness World Records or creating the largest hula hoop ever.

Wham-O is behind many beloved and wacky toys, such as the Silly String, Superball, Slip ‘n’ Slide, Hacky Sack, and Water Wiggle. They’ve created many of the toys that made our childhoods so much fun and that continue to bring us joy. If you’re ever feeling nostalgic, grabbing a Frisbee, a Hacky Sack, or a Hula Hoop will never be a bad idea!

Featured photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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