Called by many the greatest fad of them all, the Hula Hoop certainly lived up to this billing.
Developed in 1957 by Wham-O (the creator of the Frisbee), the round cylinder tube was modeled after a wooden toy which was utilized in Australian gym classes. Made of polyurethane, the hoops were placed around a persons head and then spun around their waist. In order to keep the hoop aloft, the users had to gyrate and wiggle their hips much like hula dancers in Hawaii. Wham-O marketed the toys in California and through word of mouth, interest in them quickly spread like wildfire.
In 1958, after only four months on the market, Wham-O sold a staggering 25 million units.Sales of the Hula Hoop and eventually knockoff clones ended up exceeding more than 100 million units in the United States alone. By the time the weather had turned cold in the United States, so had sales of the Hula Hoop cooled. By November, sales were almost dead so Wham-O decided to begin marketing the toy in Europe, the Middle East and the Netherlands. The mania continued to spread from Japan to Germany to Poland and on and on and on.
Remarkable is the fact that the fad lasted less than a year in the United States yet sold such an incredible volume of units. Never before or since has anything approached such a level of huge popularity.