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Fascinating facts about the invention of the Hula Hoop by
Richard P. Knerr
and Arthur K. Melin in 1958.
HULA-HOOP®
AT A GLANCE:
I
n 1957, an Australian company began making wood rings for sale in retail stores. The item attracted the attention of Wham-0, a fledgling California toy manufacturer. The next year Richard P. Knerr and Arthur K. Melin, of Wham-O, manufactured a plastic hoop in a variety of bright colors. The Hula-Hoop was an instant success.
THE STORY
RELATED INFO
BOOKS
WEB SITES
DID YOU KNOW?
Invention: Hula-Hoop®
Hula-Hoop photo courtesy Wham-O
Function: noun / brand name / Tradeamark WHAM-O Inc
Definition: A light multi-colored plastic hoop that is whirled around the body for play or exercise by the movement of the hips. More than 100 million Hula Hoop's in the first twelve months on the market
Trademark: Registration No. 0739307 issued October 16, 1962
Inventor: Arthur K. Melin  (aka Spud)
Arthur Melin photo courtesy Disc Golf Assoc.
Criteria: First practical. Entrepreneur.
Birth: December 30, 1924 in Los Angeles, California
Death: June 28, 2002 in in Costa Mesa, California 
Nationality: American
Inventor: Richard P. Knerr
NO
IMAGE
AVAILABLE
Criteria: First practical. Entrepreneur.
   
   
Milestones:
BC
1000 Egypt children played with large hoops of dried grapevines.
AD
1948 Wham-O was born in a garage when they began producing slingshots that sold for 75 cents.
1957 an Australian company began making wood rings for sale in retail stores.
1958 Wham-O, manufactured a plastic hoop in a variety of bright colors
hula-hoop, hula hoop, hulahoop,Richard P. Knerr, Arthur K. Melin, wham-o, toys, history, invention, stroy,
facts, biography, inventor.
Story:
You may think that the Hula Hoop was a fad born in the 1950s, but in fact people were doing much the same thing with circular hoops made from grape vines and stiff grasses all over the ancient world.
More than three thousand years ago, children in Egypt played with large hoops of dried grapevines. The toy was propelled along the ground with a stick or swung around at the waist.

During the fourteenth century, a "hooping" craze swept England, and was as popular among adults as kids.   The records of doctors at the time attribute numerous dislocated backs and heart attacks to "hooping."  The word hula became associated with the toy in the early 1800s when British sailors visited the Hawaiian Islands and noted the similarity between "hooping" and hula dancing.  In 1957, an Australian company began making wood rings for sale in retail stores.

The item attracted the attention of Wham-0, a fledgling California toy manufacturer. Richard P. Knerr and Arthur K. Melin, of Wham-O, manufactured a plastic hoop in a variety of bright colors.  Knerr and Melin promoted it for months in 1958 on Southern California playgrounds where they would do demonstrations and give away hoops to get the children to learn and play. Their perseverence turned HULA HOOP into the greatest fad the country has ever seen. Twenty-five million were sold in four months!
The Hula Hoop was introduced in 1958 and made the two men very rich indeed.  

The fad died out in the sixties, but Hula Hoops are now very much with us again thanks to the fitness craze.  What better way to grind off those unsightly bulges around the waist and hips.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
The History of Toys and Games   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:

The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle : And Other Surprising Stories About Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson / Paperback - 128 pages (1999) / Puffin

Brief factual stories about how various familiar things were invented, many by accident, from animal crackers to the zipper.

Why Didn't I Think of That?: Bizarre Origins of Ingenious Inventions We Couldn't Live Without
by Allyn Freeman, Bob Golden / Paperback - 260 pages / John Wiley & Sons; (September 1997)
Filled with wacky and fascinating facts, awe-inspiring success statistics, and rags-to-riches stories, Chronicles the odd origins behind 50 famous inventions and reveals the business side of each product's actual production, marketing, and distribution.

ON THE WEB:
Wham-O Inc.
Official hula hoop site, of the newly independent Wham-O Inc.
(URL: www.wham-o.com/)
Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Teachers will be interested in the possibilities of the Hula Hoop as an educational tool. Skeptics may change their minds after seeing MIT’s page honoring Melin and Knerr as Inventors of the Week.
(URL: web.mit.edu/invent/iow/hulahoop.html)
Hula Hoop Instruction Video
Have you ever wondered where the hula hoop® came from? Well wonder no more, a brief history on the round-ring of fun.
(URL: www.hula-hoops.com/)
Going, Going, Gone….
The way things used to be. Hula Hoops written by Lindsay. A ThinkQuest Project.
(URL: library.thinkquest.org/3205/gather/U960815.192539.html)


DID YOU KNOW:

  • Truckloads of hoops were hijacked on their way to stores by crazed consumers.
  • In 1958 a hula hoop cost $1.98 in the United States of America.
  • Wham-O sold more than 100 million Hula Hoop's in the first twelve months on the market, and even that wasn't enough to meet the demand.
  • In Japan,  nervous officials banned the toy's use in public for fear of mass impropriety.
  • Wham-O founders Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr spotted a bamboo exercise toy on a trip to Australia.
  • On August 5, 1999, in Reno Nevada, Lori Hula-Hooped her way into the Guinness Book of World Records by spinning 82 Hula Hoops simultaneously for three complete revolutions.
  • Wham-O was also the company that brought us the Frisbee.
  • Other toys that took the world by storm included Silly Putty, Slinky, and the Super Ball. 
  • Wham-O was born in a garage in 1948 when entrepreneurs—and best friends—Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spuds" Melin began producing slingshots that sold for 75 cents. In 1982, Knerr and Melin sold out to Kransco Manufacturing for $12 million and retired. In 1994, Mattel purchased the toy maker. Now the Wham-O brand name is flying solo again as the newly formed Wham-O Inc
Hula-Hoop ® is a brand name and registered trademarks of WHAM-O Incorporated.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised November 22, 2006.
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