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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Back in the day: Hula hoops

Wham-O introduced the hula hoop to American children (and adults) in 1958. Richard Knerr, co-founder of the toy company, believed that "simple things are always better," and the company made a fortune adhering to that concept, selling not only hula hoops but also Superballs, Frisbees and Slip-n-Slides.

For the next two years, every kid on the block (including a 10-year-old me) had a hula hoop. By 1960, when the fad began to die out, the company had sold over 100 million hoops and had made over $45 million in profits on the toy.

Some interesting trivia about hula hoops:
  • Ancient Greeks swung hoops around their waists for physical fitness.
  • In the 1400s hooping was popular in England.
  • In the early 1800s British sailors saw hula dancing in the Hawaiian Islands and thought it looked like the activity they knew as hooping, resulting in the name hula hoop.
  • In 1957 Wham-O founders Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin see bamboo hula hoops in Australia and decide to make them out of plastic.
  • In the late 1950s Japan banned hula hooping because the rotating hip movement was deemed indecent. The Soviet Union banned the activity, calling it an example of "the emptiness of American culture."
  • The 1994 Cohen brothers film The Hudsucker Proxy, starring Tim Robbins and Paul Newman, was a fictional account of the history of the hula hoop.
From boston.com and twoop.com


globalneighbourhoods.com

dirkmateer.com

Even movie stars like Jane Russell gave it a try!
from the book Fads, Follies and Delusions of the American People by Paul Sann, 1967

serc.carleton.edu


And just because it's so unbelievable...I had to include a video of  Jin Linlin, who purportedly holds the world record for hula hooping by keeping 305 of the things going for 22 seconds.



yeinjee.com

15 comments:

  1. I own a couple hoops, It's something to do when your spending your time outside on a nice warm day.
    (Plus I WAS secretly hoping I could become a professional hula hooper!) *lol*

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    1. Well, then you only have to buy 303 more hula hoops if you want to try to beat the world record. I added a video to my post, just for you! LOL

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  2. Ha, ha...I have been accused of being a pack pat, but I STILL have my hula hoop and my brother's from the 1950's. Wonder what they are worth, any ideas? One is blue and the other is green.

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    1. Wow, you may be sitting on a goldmine. Out of curiosity, I looked on eBay, expecting to find a million of them, but after seeing several pages of the new weighted ones (and nothing under "vintage hula hoops"), I gave up looking.

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  3. I had a hula hoop! My city had a contest in a green space in town. Hundreds of kids turned up. After awhile we had to do tricks, like spinning it up to our shoulders, and down to our knees. The below the knees finally put me out, lol. Wish I still had the photos my Mom took. Thanks for bringing back this memory.

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    1. That sounds like so much fun. I can't wait till my grandsons are old enough to learn.

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  4. The hula hoops they sell nowadays are garbage - at least the ones we have had. They are really flimsy and don't work well. Or maybe I've just gotten too old to use one!

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    1. Oh, I KNOW I'm too old! I noticed in the video of Jin Linlin that hers looked really thin, but I figured those were just for performing. I haven't seen any of the new ones. I remember that our old ones took a beating and still held up.

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  5. My entire life is devoted to hula hoops, yes I guess you could say I am a professional hula hooper, so I loved your post.
    There are so many types of hula hoops around these days, I am sitting in my office right now surrounded by skinny hoops, chunky hoops, dance hoops, aluminium hoops, fire hoops, light up hoops, mini hoops and even a vintage cane hoop. If you are searching for the right size hoop for you the diameter will be the height from in front of your toes up to your belly button. Never too old to hula hoop :) Deanne Love xx (Check it out...I am not kidding www.hooplovers.com)

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    1. Deanne, I checked out your site, and it's very cool! I'm so glad my post attracted a real hoop expert and that you enjoyed it. Your classes look like so much fun. Thanks for the tip on how to pick the right size hoop. Looks like I'm the last to know how popular a sport this has become.

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    2. I've been watching some of Deanne's videos, and they're amazing. I'm so glad I did this post and learned about today's hooping. Wow. Just wow.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=V09oDawk9Lw

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  6. I was of the "smell hula hoop" generation, mine was strawberry! I will have a look at hoop lovers soon, sounds cool! Thanks for making hip shaking groovey again!

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    1. Hooplovers is in Melbourne. Isn't that where you're from too?

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  7. Yes, wow! The wonders of the web!

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  8. It is very true that hula hoops is very interesting as well as it contains a lot of health benefits and thus i like it most. I hope that day by day people all over the world will able to understand that how vital hula hoop workout for our body, Thanks

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