The First Craze I Every Witnessed

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December. ~J.M. Barrie

The Hula-Hoop; A National Craze

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In all the years my father worked for Ralph David Leibowitz , once did  our family every hear dad "Blow his top".

Seems in 1958, dad was the toy buyer (in addition to a lot of other stuff)  for Ralph's 5, 10 and 25.  At a toy show in Chicago, dad bought 100 gross (yes 14,400) Hula Hoops for the six stores.  When Ralph found out, he was furious.... something about "How could you do something so stupid!"

Dad came home early that day and told mom, "I quit!"

A day later, Ralph came over to the house and apologized over and over... they sold the 100 gross of Hula Hoops in a matter of two days!

Dad tried to buy more...  nothing was available!  Guess he should have bought 1000 gross!!!

The Facts

The Hula Hoop® toy is the most popular American toy ever made. It is a brightly colored hoop of plastic which is rotated round and round the body by moving the hips. The toy was introduced by Wham-O Manufacturing™ in 1958. It cost $1.98, and it was so popular that stores kept running out. In the first six months, Americans purchased 20 million Hula Hoop toys. In 1958, 100 million were sold worldwide. All over the United States, people held Hula Hoop contests to see who could spin the longest.

The hoop is an ancient toy. It existed in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and in 14th century England. (Of course, they didn't have plastic then.)

  • Missionaries to Hawaii in the 1700s, who saw the hula dance there, named the toy the "hula hoop."
  • Though wildly popular in the U.S., Japan banned the hoops. The Soviet Union said the Hula Hoop toy was an example of the "emptiness of American culture."
  • Wham-O manufactured 20,000 hoops a day at the peak of Hula Hoop popularity.
  • The plastic tubing used for all Hula Hoop toys ever produced would stretch around the Earth more than five times.

Only problem with these things is that you needed hips to keep 'em up!!!