The Fun Hula Hoop

The Wham-O company did invent the hula hoop, but they adapted it from a manner of play popular on another continent. Hoops twirled around the waist by swiveling the hips and were popular toys for centuries in other locations and cultures. In Native American rituals, they were used for symbolic purposes to tell a story. In Europe, their use was documented in the 14th century. Hoops were made from a variety of materials; vines, metal hoops, rattan, leather, and whatever else was available which could be formed into a circle and sustain its shape. So, it is a stretch to call the hula hoop toy, wildly popular in the 1950s, a strictly American invention. But the manner in which it was manufactured, marketed, and swept the popular fancy is an American phenomenon. It began when an Australian hoop designed as exercise equipment was demonstrated to Arthur Melin, of California’s Wham-O Toys.

The hoop presented to Melin was of bamboo. He developed a method of manufacturing the hoop out of high-density polyethylene, a plastic known as Marlex. The hoop entered the market in early 1958. The ‘hula’ portion of the name came from the Hawaiian dance of hip movements. By the end of the summer, over 25 million hoops had been sold, within 2 years over 100 million hula hoops were twirled around hips, the waist, limbs or neck, around the world.

The round hoops made for children were about 28 inches and for adults, it was 39 inches. Each cost about $1.98. With the hula hoop toys so popular, even songs were created for it. One done by singer Georgia Gibbs was titled “The Hula Hoop Song” and made the top 40 hits.

Not all nationalities welcomed the toy. The Japanese banned it out of concern its use was sexually enticing. The Soviet Union stated the hoop was an indication of the frivolous nature of American culture in general. The 1950s hula hoop fad ended as abruptly as it began, and Wham-O stopped manufacturing the hoop in the early 1960s, only to return to it in 1965 with a new twist. They added ball bearings to the hoop, creating a swirling or shoosh sound when it was used. the hula hoop remained popular until the 1980s.

But they are still found today especially in gyms and at home for workouts. Do you remember using a hula hoop?

Photo: Having many hoops going took skill.

Related Blogs:

Classical Playground Games

Monopoly Game

Remembering Childhood Toys

< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.