Hula-Hoop patented - HISTORY
Year
1963

Hula-Hoop patented

On this day in 1963, the Hula-Hoop, a hip-swiveling toy that became a huge fad across America when it was first marketed by Wham-O in 1958, is patented by the company’s co-founder, Arthur “Spud” Melin. An estimated 25 million Hula-Hoops were sold 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.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Boston Massacre

On the cold, snowy night of March 5, 1770, a mob of American colonists gathers at the Customs House in Boston and begins taunting the British soldiers guarding the building. The protesters, who called themselves Patriots, were protesting the occupation of their city by British ...read more

Churchill delivers Iron Curtain speech

In one of the most famous orations of the Cold War period, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill condemns the Soviet Union’s policies in Europe and declares, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” ...read more

Innovator of hypnotism dies

Franz Anton Mesmer, a German physician who pioneered the medical field of hypnotic therapy, dies in obscurity in Meersburg, Swabia (now Germany).Born in 1734, Mesmer studied religion, philosophy, law, and medicine in Vienna, Austria, but initially failed to excel at any of these ...read more

Joseph Stalin dies

On this day, Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union since 1924, dies in Moscow.Isoeb Dzhugashvili was born in 1889 in Georgia, then part of the old Russian empire. The son of a drunk who beat him mercilessly and a pious washerwoman mother, Stalin learned Russian, which he ...read more

U.S.A.F. advisory team sent to Laos

The Joint Chiefs of Staff order a U.S. Air Force air commando training advisory team to Thailand to train Lao pilots in counterinsurgency tactics. Laos had won its independence from French control in July 1949 but the country quickly became a battleground as various factions ...read more

“Blackhorse” departs South Vietnam

The U.S. 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, less its 2nd Squadron, withdraws from Vietnam. The “Blackhorse Regiment” (named for the black horse on the regimental shoulder patch) first arrived in Vietnam in September 1966 and consisted of three squadrons, each with three armored ...read more

Dial-a-President radio program airs

On this day in 1977, the Dial-a-President radio program, featuring President Jimmy Carter and CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite, airs for the first time. The brainchild of Cronkite and CBS, the March 5 show was a test-run to see if the program could be successful. (Carter’s ...read more

Antonio de Ulloa tries to govern Louisiana

A brilliant Spanish scientist and explorer, Antonio de Ulloa’s political talents prove far less impressive when he tries to take control of the formerly French territory of Louisiana.Ulloa faced a difficult situation in Louisiana. Encompassing most of the western half of the ...read more

Charlotte Bronte declines marriage

Charlotte Bronte writes to the Reverend Henry Nussey, declining marriage. The 23-year-old Bronte told him that he would find her “romantic and eccentric” and not practical enough to be a clergyman’s wife. Rather than marry, Bronte struggled as a teacher and governess to help ...read more

Jet breaks up near Mt. Fuji

On this day in 1966, a jet breaks apart in mid-air and plummets into Japan’s Mount Fuji. All 124 people on board the aircraft were killed. The plane’s pilot apparently flew close to the mountain in order to give the passengers a better view of it, and severe turbulence ...read more

John C. Breckinridge assumes command

On this day in 1864, General John C. Breckinridge takes control of Confederate forces in the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia. The native Kentuckian was a former U.S. senator, U.S.vice presidentandrunner-up to Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election. ...read more

David Buick dies

On this day in 1929, David Dunbar Buick, the founder of the Buick Motor Company, dies in relative obscurity and meager circumstances at the age of 74. In 1908, Buick’s company became the foundation for the General Motors Corporation; however, by that time David Buick had sold his ...read more