Everyone is familiar with the sport of ‘Frisbee Throwing’. How it all got started is an interesting story. The first Frisbee’s were actually pie pans- but not just any pie pans.

In the 1870s a Civil War veteran named William Russell Frisbie opened a bakery in Bridgeport, Connecticut. His pies were well liked locally and his son Joseph expanded the business after his death, selling pies in tins emblazoned with the family name ‘Frisbie’.

It was Yale University, which was a major purchaser of the pies for their cafeterias. Students would take the empty upside-down pie tins and fling them across the campus, yelling “Frisbie” as a warning to others nearby. Soon this turned into a game, something which was played happily on campus from then on and was soon played at other Ivy League colleges as well.

By the 1930s it was an established pastime on many campuses and by the 1950s people outside of the world of pie and academia were looking for ways to cash in on this happy accident. The first plastic “Frisbee” was the Pluto Platter, invented by Air Force veteran Walter Frederick Morrison who had served in World War II. He was inspired by tossing a popcorn tin lid with his wife to create a toy that would fly in the same manner. He sold the rights to his plastic invention in 1957 to a company called Wham-o, a name that is well known to both past and present children. Wham-o stand-out toys over the years included Hula Hoop, Silly String, and Super Ball, as well as the Hackey Sack and the Slip ‘n’ Slide. Getting the rights to this simple plastic disk was a major step in building the company up and making them leaders in the market of kinetic toys. But, it was the name Frisbee, that the runaway commercial success of the Frisbee was born.

Many people kept their emblazoned Frisbee over the decades – quite a treasure now. So from a pie pan to a very popular sports item – who knew?

Photo: Emblazoned Frisbee pie.

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