Kids have been playing with hoops for centuries, so it was only a matter of time before a toy company caught on to this trend. In 1957, toymaker Wham-O introduced the Hula Hoop®, and promptly sold over 25 million of them in just two months. Although parents claim to buy these thin plastic hoops for their kids, most can't resist testing them out with a few hip swivels first.
Invented in the 1600s by the Chinese, cardboard initially made its debut to the English in the 1800s as a liner for men's hats. As cardboard became stronger and more durable, its uses began to range from storage, to packaging, to...toy?
As any parent of a small child knows, kids usually get more use out of a cardboard box than the toy that came in it. So, it's only fitting that this cheap and easy-to-find plaything would find its place in the Toy Hall of Fame.
If common accounts of history are to be believed, the invention of the ball dates back to ancient times, and is perhaps even older than civilization itself. The wonders of the ball are endless: throwing, kicking, bouncing, catching, rolling...this magnificent toy does it all. Kids love it, adults love it, and where would professional athletes be without it? It's easy to see why the ball is an obvious choice for this grand honor.
Radio Flyer® Wagon
Oh, the wonders of these little red wagons. Invented by Italian immigrant Antonio Pasin, the first mass-produced Radio Flyer® wagons were constructed in 1930. Dubbed the Radio Flyer as a patriotic reference to his homeland's famous invention, the radio, these four-wheeled creations survived the Great Depression and can still be seen gracing sidewalks and cul-de-sacs across the country.
Did you know the modeling compound for Play-Doh started off as wallpaper cleaner? After hearing most kids found modeling clay too hard to mold, creator Joe McVicker offered up his squishy creation as an easier-to-mold alternative at a 1955 national education convention. Several decades and millions of rave reviews later, Play-Doh has become a staple in every child's toy stockpile.
Mother Nature sure knows how to make a great toy. Perhaps one of the world's oldest toys, sticks have been stimulating imaginations and entertaining children (and dogs!) for thousands of years.
Whether they are used as swords, fishing poles, light sabers, or to build forts, children have been known to spend hours scouring the outdoors for the perfect sticks to complete their play. Who knew something nature provides for free could be so entertaining?
Mr. Potato Head®
If kids won't eat their vegetables, why not play with them? Inventor George Lerner came up with this wacky idea when thinking of bonus toys for cereal box promotions. His creations of silly face parts for vegetables was acquired by the Hassenfeld brothers (now Hasbro, Inc.) in 1952 and paved the way for the special spud known today as Mr. Potato Head®.
Mr. Potato Head® is not only a Toy Hall of Famer, but an actor, too. It was the first toy to be featured in a television commercial, and also starred in the hit children's movie Toy Story in 1995 and Toy Story 2 in 1998.
Did you know the teddy bear is named after President Theodore Roosevelt? While on a hunting trip in 1902, Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that expedition trackers had caught and tied to a tree. When the story got out, it struck a chord with the American sense of fair play, and political cartoonist Clifford Berryman portrayed the old injured female bear as a helpless cub in one of his cartoons.
With Roosevelt's permission, Brooklyn toy shop owner Morris Mictom sewed the first cuddly toy and dubbed it Teddy's Bear. As its popularity shows, the bear was obviously a hit, and to this day remains the most popular plush toy in history.
The Slinky® was accidentally invented in 1943, when engineer Richard James was working to create springs that could keep sensitive ship equipment steady at sea. After knocking a few samples off a shelf, he watched them "walk" down off the shelves instead of just falling.
And so the Slinky® was born. Although initial sales were sluggish, its popularity soared during Christmas of 1945 when Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia allowed demonstrations for customers. By the end of the 20th century, over 250 million Slinky's® had been sold worldwide.
Easy Bake® Oven
The inspiration behind this light bulb-powered oven came in the 1960s from pretzel vendors on New York City streets. Toy maker Kenner, Inc. introduced the first Easy Bake® in 1963 and has since sold over 23 million sets.
Parents rest easy knowing their child won't get burned by the 100-watt bulbs that power each oven, and kids love the treats that come out of them. Each set comes complete with cake and cookie mixes, utensils, bake pans, and a recipe book that helps create delicious, single-serve desserts for each little baker. It's no wonder such a sweet toy has remained so popular through the years!