Hello Whyville, and welcome to the first part of my new series about the history of children's toys! Each week, I will be choosing a toy to research and share the history of with you. If there's something you'd like to see in a future article, please y-mail or post in the BBS with your ideas!
Did you know that one of the most popular toys for children actually started out as a wallpaper cleaner, over 50 years ago? The toy I'm talking about is Play-Doh, a modeling clay that has become common in everyday households since its invention in 1956. Here is the history of this fun compound sparking creativity in children for decades.
In 1956, Joseph and Noah McVicker developed Play-Doh to clean wallpaper. Joseph's sister, a teacher, noticed the clay's potential as a modeling clay for children to create with and took some to school with her for the kids to play with. The Play-Doh was easier for young kids to manipulate than the modeling clay already used at the school, and was a hit with the children and teachers. Thus Play-Doh was born as a toy for children.
As the use of Play-Doh spread throughout schools and kindergartens, stores started to take notice. It was first sold in Woodward & Lothrop Department Store that same year. Originally, Play-Doh was sold only as an off-white color, but by 1957 red, yellow, and blue had joined the Play-Doh compound line and were sold in a three-pack.
The toy's popularity skyrocketed over the next 15 years. In 1960, smaller 2-ounce cans began being sold for more convenient home use over their 1.5-pound predecessors. Just four years later, Play-Doh had started being sold internationally in England, France and Italy. And in 1972, after their commercial featuring the character "Play-Doh Pete" being voted one of the top 100 best commercials and a merge with Kenner Products, the 500,000,000th (Five-hundred millionth!) can of Play-Doh was sold.
Play-Doh officially joined Hasbro as part of the Playskool line in 1991, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006. As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, in addition to creating new playsets and adding to its now extensive line of colors, Hasbro released a 50-pack of Play-Doh modeling clay to mark the occasion. Today, Play-Doh is well-known by people all over the world and a staple in children's toys.
Here are some pictures of Play-Doh cans and containers over the years.
Make sure you check back next week for the second edition of Toy History!
Author's Note: Sources: http://www.failedsuccess.com/index.php?/weblog/comments/playdoh_history