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The 1950s were a landmark time in the history of toy making. Many of the toys that were popular at the time made a significant impact on culture and are still relevant today.
Multiple generations of children have grown up with toys created during this era, something that helps bond families all across the country. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at a few of these delightful toys of yesteryear.
Mr. Potato Head
Originally released in 1952, the packaging came with only face pieces. Children had to use a real potato in order to complete the Mr. Potato Head look. The rest of the play process with this toy was up to the imagination of children, something the youngsters of the day loved.
With the original intention of producing a wallpaper cleaner going awry, this squishy and fun toy was created and soon took the market by storm.
Since this toy’s release in 1955, Hasbro has sold over 900 million pounds of Play-Doh. Fun fact: The exact formula for creating Play-Doh is still one of the best kept secrets within the toy business!
While hoops for play and dance had been used by various cultures throughout history, the modern Hula Hoop was reinvented by Wham-O in 1957 and the company sold well over 100 million units during the first year.
The unique shape and concept of the Hula Hoop was greatly embraced by the public, with the toy becoming a national fad. Children, teenagers, and even adults were excited to try out the new toy that was making headlines.
Companies like Jaymar and Schoenhut dominated the children’s piano market in the 1950s, producing original mini pianos that had a wooden frame and keys. Later, the companies began experimenting with new production methods, leading to plastic piano models that grabbed the public’s attention.
Although an expensive toy to have at the time, children were excited to learn to play an instrument leading these to become a very popular toy of the 1950s.
Originally designed to help young children learn to walk, the Corn Popper is a toy that not only made its mark on the 1950s, but one that continues to be quite popular with today’s children and parents.
When the toy is pushed or pulled, little, colorful balls pop within a plastic dome like popcorn, delighting children audibly and visually.
The Corn Popper has had several spinoff models designed with the same goal in mind. By encouraging children to walk and stay moving, this toy is not only entertaining, but useful as well.
Toward the end of the 1950s, the first models of Barbie were released. Soon, Barbie became an especially popular doll, outselling other dolls on the market within the first year.
And Barbie’s popularity has never really subsided, since even today children still play with Barbie dolls, dressing them up, buying accessories, and letting their imaginations run wild.
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The idea of the Frisbee was born in a small town located in Connecticut. A famous pie business, the Frisbie Pie Company, delivered their goods to several college campuses. Once students were finished eating, they would use the tin from the pies to play catch with their friends, yelling out “Frisbie!” as a sort of “heads up” call.
Wham-O saw this as an opportunity to create a new toy with the same concept in mind. Thus, the Frisbee was born and today can be purchased at many stores for a low price.
The Frisbee still serves as a staple activity for college students to partake in today, with Ultimate Frisbee being particularly popular.
Before Hot Wheels, there was Matchbox Cars. This famous toy got its name because the individual toy cars were sold in small boxes that resembled the boxes that matches came in.
The brand later developed by selling carrying cases, action figures, and more, leading to an increase in popularity among children.
With multiple designs released throughout the 1950s, the Pogo Stick became a beloved toy for children, teenagers, and young adults.
In 1955, the Pogo Stick was designed to have one upward facing handle for users to hold on to. Later, this model was reconsidered as it posed a safety issue to users and their chins.
In 1957 a new model of the Pogo Stick made headlines. The two-handled design is the one that we are familiar with today, as it is much safer for the user.
Fisher-Price’s Little People
In 1950, Fisher-Price released the miniature dolls Little People. They owe their first successes to “Looky Fire Truck,” which came with three fireman figures attached.
With high demand for this product, Fisher-Price then released “Super-Jet,” “Racing Rowboat,” and many more, leading to even more success for the company.
This beloved and iconic toy from the 1950s was originally called the Syco-Seer with a completely different design from what we know today.
The Syco-Seer started out as a cylinder filled with water. Inside the water was a die that floated around, similar to the later design, letting the user see their fortune for whatever question was asked.
It wasn’t until a few years later when a company, Brunswick Billiards, was on the lookout for giveaway items to promote their business that the design was changed. When the original creators heard about this opportunity, they changed the Syco-Seer to the Magic 8-Ball we know today.
After gaining some attention from the giveaway, they marketed the Magic 8-Ball as a paperweight for adults. It was soon after that children took an interest in the ball and the toy’s marketing shifted to this younger demographic.