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History

March 5 1963 Hula-hoop Patented


On March 5th 1963, the Hula-Hoop was patented by Wham-O co-founder Arthur “Spud” Melin. The hip-swiveling toy became a huge fad across America when it was first marketed in 1958, and sold an estimated 25 million in its first four months of production alone.

In 1948, friends Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr founded a company in California to sell a slingshot they created to shoot meat up to falcons they used for hunting. The company’s name, Wham-O, came from the sound the slingshots supposedly made. Wham-O eventually branched out from slingshots, selling boomerangs and other sporting goods. Its first hit toy, a flying plastic disc known as the Frisbee, debuted in 1957. The Frisbee was originally marketed under a different name, the Pluto Platter, in an effort to capitalize on America’s fascination with UFOs.

Melina and Knerr were inspired to develop the Hula-Hoop after they saw a wooden hoop that Australian children twirled around their waists during gym class. Wham-O began producing a plastic version of the hoop, dubbed “Hula” after the hip-gyrating Hawaiian dance of the same name, and demonstrating it on Southern California playgrounds. Hula-Hoop mania took off from there.

The enormous popularity of the Hula-Hoop was short-lived and within a matter of months, the masses were on to the next big thing. However, the Hula-Hoop never faded away completely and still has its fans today. According to Ripley’s Believe It or Not, in April 2004, a performer at the Big Apple Circus in Boston simultaneously spun 100 hoops around her body. Earlier that same year, in January, according to the Guinness World Records, two people in Tokyo, Japan, managed to spin the world’s largest hoop, at 13 feet, 4 inches, around their waists at least three times each.

Following the Hula-Hoop, Wham-O continued to produce a steady stream of wacky and beloved novelty items, including the Superball, Water Wiggle, Silly String, Slip ‘n’ Slide and the Hacky Sack.

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Discussion

18 thoughts on “March 5 1963 Hula-hoop Patented

  1. This is the day my mom says I was conceived :) Day before my dad’s 32nd birthday :)

    Posted by flamidwyfe | March 5, 2012, 12:07 am
  2. Hi,
    There wasn’t a girl in my school who didn’t own a hula hoop, I had a few myself. I’m sure it was the most popular item back then. :D

    Posted by magsx2 | March 5, 2012, 3:23 am
  3. A day to remember..:)

    Posted by Dugutigui | March 5, 2012, 7:41 am
  4. Very useful, and seemingly Aussie-inspired :-)

    Posted by Craig Hill | March 5, 2012, 8:05 am
  5. When I was a kid, we’d make our own version of Slip’N’Slide with some plastic sheeting and a running hose. Sometimes we’d add a little dish detergent for extra slide. I’d love to play Slip’N’Slide in my back yard now but, at age 52, I’d probably dislocate something and end up in the hospital.
    Interesting about the origin of the name Wham-O!

    Posted by catbird365 | March 5, 2012, 9:44 am
  6. Gosh this post brought back memories as I remembered the hula-hoop I had as a child.

    Posted by Just Add Attitude | March 5, 2012, 9:50 am
  7. Way too many associations for me:

    The Frisbee came from guys who worked in the production bakery of the Frisbee Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut – throwing around the tin pie plates. The plastic version worked great as we all know. The pie company eventually folded after a long time.

    The first hula hoops hit the market without a lot of confidence. Instead of the model which comprised 99% of the production, the pilot runs – and early sales – were made of Polish birch/plastic coated. As soon as they were determined to be a hit, the plastic tubing version was rolled out.

    Posted by eideard | March 5, 2012, 12:25 pm
  8. Too bad it lost its fizzle….though they do have it on the Wii. And my 10-year-old niece LOVES it. It’s one of my favorites too…and a lot easier than the real one, which I always found so difficult to balance.

    Posted by Jennifer Ward-Pelar | March 5, 2012, 12:54 pm
  9. Talk about a walk down memory lane, this is it. Last summer when state side, I actually saw children playing with a hula-loop, which means that all of you should quit talking about it as a thing of the past. It is still a popular toy. Otherwise, this article is tops for me, because it makes you look back at past in nice and fond way. Great article great stuff. :-)

    Posted by mulrickillion | March 5, 2012, 10:44 pm
  10. always liked the name wham-o. without saying much conveys alot.

    Posted by pdlyons | March 6, 2012, 2:50 am
  11. This brings back a lot of fun memories. I was 14 when this craze began. It seemed like everyone had one and the adults were as anxious to try it as any kid. Many laughs. Thanks for the article.

    Posted by --Rick | March 6, 2012, 3:58 pm
  12. 100 hoops at once, I can barely handle one.

    Posted by TBM | March 8, 2012, 8:23 pm

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