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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas over the last half of the 20th century

Over the last half of the 20th century, Christmas fads came and went. Some even became family traditions. On this festive Christmas Eve, take a look at a few.



Harry J. Hoenselaar invented HoneyBaked Ham's sweet glaze and spiral slicer in his Detroit basement in the late 1950s. By the 1980s, the meaty treat had become a holiday regular. The company still makes half of its annual sales in December.

Artificial trees entered the marketplace in the 1950s. By 2010, about 50 million homes had gone artificial, while 30 million stayed with real trees.


People went crazy for Etch A Sketch in 1960, and the Ohio Art Company manufactured them till noon on Christmas Eve. Kids today still love the static-charged drawing toy, as well as the Etch A Sketch-themed iPhones and iPad covers.

Etch A Sketch

By 1961 Nat King Cole was on his fourth recording of "The Christmas Song," this time in stereo. It was added in 1963 to the album The Magic of Christmas, a full album of holiday tunes that are still played today.

Nat King Cole

Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas came out in 1966. It, along with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Charlie Brown and Frosty the Snowman remain perennial animated stars, and all are from the 1960s.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas


The quest for the perfect roast turkey ended in the 1970s when Butterball introduced plastic giblet-and-neck bags, patented turkey lifter, a cooking directions booklet and its patented Deep Basting process.

Butterball turkey

In 1975, ad executive Gary Dahl put a rock on some straw in a cardboard box, punched holes for air, and made more than a million dollars on Pet Rocks. The craze ended within six months, but they're back on the market this year.

Pet Rock


The movie A Christmas Story came out in 1983 and has developed a cult following by the turn of the century. Cable channels feature 24-hour marathons of Ralphie, the leg lamp and the Red Ryder BB gun.

Santa telling Ralphie, "You'll shoot your eye out!"

Cabbage Patch Kids became the "in" toy in the early 1980s, and by the end of 1983, almost 3 million orphan dolls had been "adopted."

Cabbage Patch doll


Blockbuster Video introduced the gift card in 1994, and today more than half of all adults say they would rather receive them than gifts, according to the National Retail Federation. Today's latest trend is e-gift cards. Now you can say, "Here's an email. Go buy yourself something nice."

Gift card

In the mid-1990s, "Happy holidays" emerged as the season's greeting of choice as people decide to avoid offending anyone who celebrates Hanukkah or Kwanzaa...or doesn't celebrate at all.

Holiday decorations


  1. I have never heard of (or seen) spiral ham. It's quite pretty isn't it...
    Happy Christmas to the mid-2-mod gang.
    Love to you Dana, Kylie x

    p.s. we are having a hell of a time with our renos (I'm remembering your dramas with the Modernist nest). Our tradie made me cry today, and Anthony (who is away) made me give him the flick! So still only half a bathroom, and I have no idea when it will be finished. Over it, and not feeling very merry. At all.

    1. I'm so sorry that you're going through the hell of renovation at Christmastime. I remember when my bathroom was being renovated, and it was no fun. I still say check into a nice hotel, go to the spa and then lounge around the pool with drinks...lots of drinks. Hoping you find a way to have a merrier Christmas than you're having right now...not to mention a happy new year with a new bathroom!!! Love to your and your family, Kylie.

  2. Merry Christmas Dana!

    Thanks for the memories. I remember most, especially my pet rock!

    1. The pet rock is back this with a USB cord that draws no power at all. It just sits beside your computer and confuses your friends. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and yours, Bill!

  3. Happy Christmas, Dana...and thanks so much for entertaining and educating me through out the year! Oh, I wish I had found a pet rock usb. Where were they, Think Geek?
    Enjoy your holiday and is it possible that you'll have a white Christmas up in Big D?

    1. Yes, Think Geek had them. I think they're pretty cute.

      We had our big snow/ice storm a few weeks ago, so I think we'll be doing brown this Christmas, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s through the weekend! I hope your holiday is safe and happy.

  4. Thanls for this trip down memory lane Dana. I remember being on a hunt for a cabbage patch doll and coming up empty the first Christmas they were out. A Christmas Story is still my fav seasonal movie, along with the Grinch.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    1. I did the Cabbage Patch thing too and managed to get a couple for my daughter. Ooops...maybe I got yours!

      You and your family have a wonderful Christmas too, Pam!

  5. To "Happy Holidays" I say "Merry Christmas and a Happy New year"! (Just like in the 1950's) Unless of course it is Bing Crosby singing the intro song to "Holiday Inn". In 2014 the Wichita Theatre will be presenting "A Christmas Story" The Musical- featuring a Kick line of leg lamps!

    1. A Christmas Story will be so much fun to do. My SIL loves the film so much that his parents bought him a leg lamp for college graduation. Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, Mick, and have a Happy New Year.