With video games dominating and transforming the landscape of our pre-teen children with a new virtual world for them to play in, it is refreshing to know that there are still classic toys available for our younger children to enjoy. Let’s look at one of these special toys:
There is a classic toy, invented by two brothers in 1955, that still captures the imaginations of our pre-school children and youngsters alike. That toy, or product is: Play Doh.
Originally a wallpaper cleaner invented by brothers Noah W. McVicker and Joseph S. McVicker, Play Doh was introduced to schools in the Cincinnati area in 1955 because McVicker’s sister-in-law asked if it was a safe alternative to modeling clay. Play Doh was an instant hit and soon the McVicker brothers formed Rainbow Crafts Company to produce and sell their product. Additionally, the brothers showcased their “modeling clay” at a National Education Convention and the word spread to the big department stores, Macy’s and Marshall Field’s. Soon after, Plah Doh was a national hit.
Advertising played a crucial role in the success of Play Doh. Captain Kangaroo, a very popular educator of young children at the time, endorsed Play Doh. So did Miss Frances from the Ding Dong School, another popular children’s television show. In 1960, a character named Play-Doh-Pete, a young boy with a beret was introduced to the advertising campaign. Additionally, the Fun Factory Accessory Playset was added to the product line, which allowed children to squeeze the material into interesting shapes and molds, furthering sales and development of the product.
In 1980 Play Doh expanded its palette to include eight colors, some that glowed in the dark and even some that were scented. It is estimated that more than two billion cans of Play Doh have been sold since 1956 and the total amount of Play Doh manufactured since then would weigh more than 700 million pounds.
The ingredients for Play Doh, to this day, remain a closely guarded secret. But it is primarily made up of a mixture of water, wheat flour, deodorized kerosene (or some other petroleum distillate-to provide the smooth texture), salt, a drying agent such as borax (which deters mold), an alum-based hardening agent, colorings and perfume.
Kids all over the world still enjoy Play Doh (it is sold in more than 6000 stores and over 75 countries worldwide) and children can even celebrate National Play Doh Day on September 18th. Some products never go out of style and Play Doh will always have young minds to enlighten and entertain.