World Hoop Day Blog

WHD in the History of the Hula Hoop

The History of the Hula Hoop

A Simple Hoop is Transformed to Become an Instant Craze


Kids with Hula Hoops - Ajtruhan
Kids with Hula Hoops – Ajtruhan
The Hula Hoop, born 50 years ago, became an instant success symbolizing the carefree youth of the 60s. The Hula Hoop fad was short lived but its iconic status lives on.

History of the Hula Hoop

From time immemorial children have always played with hoops of all sorts, made from bamboo, willow and rattan, but the Hula Hoop as popularly known now was “re-invented” by an American company called Wham-O founded by Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin in 1958. They had heard from an Australian friend how children there seemed to enjoy twirling bamboo hoops. Lori Gregory, Knerr’s daughter, is quoted in an article titled “Once the hippest toy around, Hula Hoop turns 50” in the Chicago Tribune of June 18 as saying “My father always believed the more simple a toy was, the better it was”. Although Wham-O could not patent the hoop they did patent the name “Hula Hoop”.

The Hula Hoop Sweeps the World

From humble beginnings, with the company owners flogging the hoops around school playgrounds in Southern California, the “Hula Hoop” became a symbol of youth and freedom. Richard Johnson, author of American Fads (Beech Tree Books, 1985) wrote “No sensation has ever swept the country like the Hula Hoop.” It sold 25 million units in its first four months and over 100 million in 1958, according to a report titled “Hula Hoops Swivel Their Way to 50”, filed by AP on June 18 2008. Although a typical piece of “Americana” the Hula Hoop went on to sweep the western world, becoming a craze in Canada, Europe and Australia during the early 1960s.

Hula Hoop Legacy

By the middle 60s the Hula Hoop craze began to die out, putting the Wham-O company in dire straights until the owners came up with another brilliant simple toy, that was to start a fad of its own, called the Frisbee. But while the passing of the Hula Hoop as a child’s toy began to die out, the Hula Hoop as an exercise tool continued to grow. Today Hula Hoops are used the world over as aids in gyms, body toning parlors and exercise yards. It has also made a reappearance in dancing called “hoopdance” or simply “hooping”.

World Hoop Day

Now there is a World Hoop Day. According to the worldhoopday website “On July 7, 2007 (7-7-7) hula hoopers of all ages gathered on 6 continents to celebrate the first International World Hoop Day.” This event is for charity for children in the developing world. This years World Hoop Day will be on August 8, 2008 (8-8-8) and so on up to 1012 (12-12-12)

Hula Hoop Memories

Recalling a simpler age, when windows meant glass openings in walls, apples were fruits, “Macs” were your Irish neighbors, webs were what glistened with morning frosts in winter gardens, the Hula Hoop defined a friendlier, less stressful era. Although the high point of this iconic toy of yesteryear has passed, its memory lingers on.

The hoop was a child’s simple toy, but the marketing genius of the founders of Wham-0, 50 years ago, turned it into a world craze, allowing the company to go on producing other iconic toys such as the Frisbee. The Hula Hoop today is used more as an exercise aid than a toy, but for people who grew up in the 50s and 60s it still recalls fond memories

Read more at Suite101: The History of the Hula Hoop: A Simple Hoop is Transformed to Become an Instant Craze |

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