Photo courtesy Associated Press. Knerr and Melin show off their most famous creation.
Not long ago I was actually thinking that I wanted to get a hula hoop. You see, I tried one that was lying around at my brother's house a couple of years ago and man, did it ever work the abs and back! I'm surprised that more fitness magazines don't promote this retro toy as a great addition to any workout regimen. Fifty years ago, when kids weren't sitting on their squishy behinds and burning their brains and eyeballs out on video games, the hula hoop kept them active and was the hottest toy and fad around.
You might be surprised to know that the hula hoop technically wasn't invented here in the U.S. It was actually spotted on Australian schoolyards by entrepreneurs Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin (who formed the Wham-O! toy company and also gave us the Frisbee.) They sought a trademark for the plastic cylinder swiveling around kids' hips and in 1958, a new toy was born.
In just one year over 100 million Hula Hoops sold in the U.S. for $1.98 each. Even Alvin the Chipmunk wanted one. Like all fads, though, those numbers eventually declined and the company went on to make several iconic toys including the Slip 'n Slide. But it still manufactures hula hoops, it's crowning glory.
By the way, there is a place in Nashville, TN that offers hula hoop fitness classes. Check out the site Hooprama.