The classics never go out of style.
Wham-O Turns 75
Next year, Wham-O has major plans to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary, in addition to three major milestones for some of its most iconic brands. Wham-O is behind some of the most recognizable toy properties of all time, including Frisbee, Slip ‘N Slide, Hula Hoop, Hacky Sack, Superball, Trac-Ball, and Boogie Body Boards. Plus, the company’s legacy lives on with several licensees that will introduce products in new categories, including Jazwares for pet toys; Winning Moves Games for a retro line including Frisbee, Superball, and Hacky Sack, with a reintroduction of the Slip ‘N Slide planned for next year; and Bentex for a new line of adult and kids’ apparel next year.
Honoring the legacy that Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr left behind when they founded Wham-O in 1948, the company will debut a new logo and will create a special, limited edition Frisbee in honor of its 75th anniversary. Stay tuned for many more announcements in the next few months!
DID YOU KNOW? The Super Bowl’s name is inspired by Wham-O’s Superball.
65 Years of a Pop Culture Phenomenon
The modern Hula Hoop was inspired by Joan Anderson’s trip to Australia in 1957, when she learned that kids were playing with bamboo rings to exercise. One year later, Wham-O began manufacturing 42-inch diameter hoops made from plastic. The fad began in July 1958 when 25 million units were sold in less than four months, and sales reached more than 100 million hoops in two years. The Strong inducted the Hula Hoop into its National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999. There are more than 20 types of Hula Hoops sold today, including light-up, do-it-yourself, and glow-in-the-dark versions.
DID YOU KNOW? The Hula Hoop is one of the few toys to have sold 300 million pieces in its lifetime.
Frisbee Spins Into 65th Anniversary
Who knew the nationwide obsession with UFOs would lead to one of the best-selling toys of all time? In 1957, Wham-O introduced the Pluto Platter, aka the Flying Saucer, that could soar, spin, and skip through the air. In 1958, the brand was renamed Frisbee, influenced by the tins from the Frisbie Pie Co. The popularity of the Frisbee transcended kids when the International Frisbee Association was formed in 1967 and the competitive game Ultimate Frisbee was introduced. The Strong inducted Frisbee into its National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998. Licensee Winning Moves Games currently sells Retro Frisbees with a ‘50s look and weight.
DID YOU KNOW? The rock band Monster Magnet takes its name from Wham-O’s 1964 toy that could lift 20 pounds of steel.
40 Years of Hacky Sack
Inspired by a Native American game in which individuals kicked a small bean bag without using their hands and arms for as long as possible, Mike Marshall and John Stalberger experimented with different versions of a sack that would last. In 1973, the duo perfected the design — a two-panel, leather, round shape stitched from the inside — that remains in use today. Wham-O originally marketed the Hacky Sack as a soccer training aid, and the World Footbag Association was formed in Colorado in 1984. Licensee Winning Moves Games currently sells Retro Hacky Sacks.
DID YOU KNOW? The original Hacky Sack was square, made of denim, and filled with rice.
This spring, Jazwares will launch a Wham-O Pet Toys collection, featuring beloved brands specially made for furry companions in mind: Picture a dog gliding down a Slip ‘N Slide, chasing after a Superball, and more. The 2023 launch will feature 4-foot end caps — filled with Frisbee, Hula Hoop, Slip ‘N Slide, Hacky Sack, and Superball products made for pets — at PetSmart and other major pet retailers.
All information and photos were provided by Anjar & Becker Associates, the global licensing agent for Wham-O
This article was originally published in the September 2022 Fall Toy Preview edition of The Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!