Wednesday, July 18, 2012

History of the Toy Part Two: Play-Doh

 Who doesn't feel a twinge of nostalgia when you smell a fresh can of Play-Doh?  It's one of our bestsellers, which is hardly a surprise.  Non-toxic, easy to mold, and safe for 2 years and up, it's the perfect toy for toddlers.

But, just like Coca-Cola, its original purpose was more utilitarian than fun (Coca-Cola was originally a syrup designed to relieve headaches, but since it was delicious with soda water, it became something else entirely).   Play-Doh was designed to be a wallpaper cleaner, but inventor Joseph McVicker remembered as a child loving modelling clay, but finding it difficult to use due to its stiffness.  Because his concoction was non-toxic and extremely malleable, he sent it to a friend who taught at a local school, and soon, he was supplying Play-Doh to all of the schools in Cincinnati!  One year later in 1956, he and his brother started Rainbow Crafts and began to sell Play-Doh, then only available in off-white, to Woodward & Lothrop Department Store in Washington D.C.  One year later they expanded the product to include colors (blue, red and yellow).  The formula changed slightly in the product's early years to make it even softer, but for the most part it has remained the same.  After several company mergers, in 1991 Play-Doh finally became part of the Hasbro family who still produces it today.  Play-Doh has over 871,000 fans on Facebook, and it even has its own 'day', which if you're interested is September 18th.  It just goes to show you that the simplest toys can have the most longevity and the most play value.  

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