Barbie and Play-Doh are among the most popular toys of the decade.
The 1950’s has had a lasting impact popular culture today. Besides cars and music, the 1950’s is also know for the introduction of many new toys that became more than fads and are still just as popular today. These are toys that generations have grown up with.
Perhaps one of the most significant 1950’s toys is Barbie. The doll was the creation of Ruth Handler. After seeing how her daughter, the doll’s namesake, played with paper dolls Ruth believed there was a market for a doll for young girls to use for playing “grown-up.” She took the idea to her husband, who was a co-founder of Mattel. He and the company board were not convinced by the idea. On a 1956 trip to Germany Ruth saw a popular grown-up doll called Bilt Lilly. She bought one for her daughter and two to bring to Mattel. She re-designed the doll with the help of a Mattel engineer and Barbie was launced on March 9, 1959. The doll was a huge success and Barbie is now the best-selling fashion doll of all time.
Another 1950’s toy that proved to have lasting popularity is Play-Doh. The putty was created in the 1930’s originally as wallpaper cleaner. When Joe McVicker, an executive in the company that made the cleaner, found out it was being used by school children to make Christmas ornaments, he decided to rework the product and market it to schools in 1955, in an attempt to save the failing company. In the following two years it received national attention with retail accounts at Macy’s and Marshall Field’s, as well as advertising on popular children’s shows. Between 1955 and 2005 two billion cans of Play-Doh were sold.
Here is a short list of other popular 1950’s toys, according to Time Magazine’s All Time 100 Greatest Toys.
1952 – Mr. Potato Head
1953 – Matchbox Car
1955 – PEZ Dispenser
1955 – Gumby
1955 – Tonka Trucks
1955 – Frisbee
1958 – Hula Hoop
1959- Chatty Cathy