Remembering the Toys of the 1950's April 20 2015
1952 Mr. Potato Head
George Lerner of New York City patented Mr. Potato Head in 1952 based on a previous toy named "make a face" that made use of a real potato. Mr. Potato Head was the first toy advertised on network television. In 1964 the concept of using actual fruits and vegetables gave way when Hasbro began providing their own plastic potato with each set.
1953 Matchbox Cars
Lesney Products, a British die-cast company began making Matchbox cars in 1953. They were named Matchbox cars since they were originally designed to fit inside a matchbox. Their first miniature vehicle was a scaled-down version of the Lesney green and red road roller.
Yahtzee was patented in 1956 by game entrepreneur Edwin S. Lowe. The game is a variation of earlier dice games Poker Dice, Yacht and Generala. Yahtzee was sold and distributed by the E.S. Lowe Company from 1956 until it was purchased by Milton Bradley in 1973. During E.S. Lowe’s ownership over 40 million Yahtzee games were sold around the world.
Play-Doh was first presented at an educational convention in 1956 and after in-store demonstrations, Macy's in New York and Marshall Fields in Chicago began selling the product. Advertisements for Play-Doh began appearing in 1957 on Captain Kangaroo, Ding Dong School, and Romper Room increasing the product's popularity and sales.
The idea of a recreational flying disc dates back to 1938 but the rights were bought by Wham-O in 1957 and the flying disc was christened “Frisbee”. In 1967 a band of raised ridges were added to the disc’s surface to stabilize its flight. Wham-O then began marketing the Frisbee as a new sport, selling over 100 million units by 1977.
1957 Hula Hoop
The hula hoop fad of the late 50’s has it roots in Australia, where children twirled hoops of bamboo. It is said that Wham-O founders heard of the twirling hoops from a visiting Aussie. Wham-O gave out free hoops and held demonstrations at playgrounds around California and the hula hoop frenzy began. The craze was short-lived lasting from January to October, when it died out suddenly. During the furor over 100 million hoops were sold.
Barbie was introduced in March 1959. Ruth Handler is recognized as the creator of the doll using the German doll Bild Lilli as a source of inspiration. The original Barbie doll came in a black and white zebra striped swimsuit with her hair in a topknot ponytail, and was offered in both blonde and brunette options.