What were Popular 1960s Fads for Our Ancestors?

The very term ‘fads’ refers to trends, fashions, activities that come and go. During most of the 20th century there have been a number of ‘fads,’ those popular items that then lose popularity and replaced by another fad. Yet there were several fads that continued for decades.

The decade of the 1960s was very big on many fads that would have directly affected your ancestors and relatives. They could have been a part of using or being a part of the fad or watched and thought people were crazy with these fads.

A favorite furniture style was to have a ‘bean bag chair’ and it was just like it sounds. A big round bag covered in leather and filled with beans. It was made to fit a person’s back rather than a stiff chair.

There were 8-track tapes which started in 1964. There was record music at one’s fingertips, just place into an 8-track player, which were also placed in autos. Instead of a 45-record or a record album needing a record player, the 8-track had many songs in a case that fit in your hand.

The Beatles, the international music band, were truly the greatest fad of the 1960s, everyone followed everything they did. Not just their music, but also their longer hairstyle was copied, and their clothing style was the rage.

Besides the Beatles, who were from England, other imports from England became popular especially in America. Other musical bands such as The Who, Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits the Animals and the Hollies captured American audiences. Also, British actors such as Peter Sellers, Michael Caine, and Peter O’Toole were popular. Add to that were fashions coming from England including the British mod style.

For younger kids, especially the girls, they all had to have the ‘Easy-Bake Oven’ which came out in 1963 and sold for $15.95 which was considered very expensive. In its first year there were half a million units sold. Another must have items for girls was a Barbie doll, sold by Mattel. The doll was first introduced in 1959, selling for $3 and continued through the 1960s. The doll remained popular but did change with the times over the decades after the 1960s.

For the young ladies, wearing mini-shirts and boots was the clothing style. By 1961 the hemlines were above the knee and continued up over the decade.

An item worn by males and females during the 1960s were ‘peace beads’ and the ‘peace symbol’. The peace symbol could be on anything; clothing, purses, hats, as jewelry or on flags. This one item did truly represent the 1960s. Another from the 1960s was introduced in 1963 was the ‘smiley face’ and it is still popular in later decades.

Television shows had their fads also. People loved watching ‘spy shows’ such as ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’; “Get Smart’ and even ‘The Wild Wild West’ a western version of spies. Movies had many spy movies especially the ‘007’ movie series with James Bond.

With outer space becoming very popular in the 1960s, even a powder drink from General Mills in 1957 became the rage when it was advertised that astronaut John Glenn in 1962 and other astronauts had the new mix known as ‘Tang’. Sales increased immediately.

One can not think of the 1960s without including the most popular fad dance, the ‘Twist’ which was made popular on TV in August 1960. By 1966 there was from Milton Bradley a new game called the ‘Twister’. It could put youngsters and adults in all types of positions trying to reach their mark on the twister floor board.

So just a few of the fads of the 1960s. Ask some of your living relatives what they especially liked and remembered about the 1960s.

Photos: Bean bag; 8-track tapes and player; The Beatles; Easy Bake Oven; Barbie dolls and the peace symbol.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Slang Terms of the 1960s

Vintage Hair Styles 1920s-1960s

Census Day – April 1, 1950

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