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The Not So Secret History Behind 10 Classic Toys

Third Generation Log Lover

There are some toys that just seem to stand the test of time. Toys that I played with as a little girl that are now popular with my little girl. Toys that my own parents played with and still have tucked away in a basement. Some of the most popular toys were complete accidents while others have a history that includes war and possible racism.

Think you are up on classic toy history? Check out these 10 classic playthings and see.

I’m happy to say I have played with every toy on this list. Addie has played with more than half (sorry love, but if you want to play with silly string you’re going to have to do it at another house.) Lincoln Logs have the same familiar wooden scent as they did 22 years ago, Slinkys still make that magical sound as they walk down stairs, there’s still nothing better than opening a fresh box of crayons and hula hoops have become my favorite way to exercise.

Proof that classics never die.

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  • Lincoln Logs 1 of 10
    Lincoln Logs
    Lincoln Logs were originally introduced in 1916 after Frank Lloyd Wright's son, John Lloyd Wright observed the unique construction style of the Imperial Palace Hotel in Tokyo. The logs are named after President Abraham Lincoln and original sets included instructions on how to build Lincoln's cabin as well as instructions to assemble Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • View Master 2 of 10
    View Master
    The View-Master was developed in 1930 as a way for adults to enjoy scenic vistas, especially the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad caverns. It was marketed as a photographic postcard and was widely available in gift shops and tourist attractions. During WWII the View-Master was used by the U.S. military to help soldiers identify ships, planes and artillery from a distance. After the war discs containing images of cartoon and television characters along with other scenic views and became a popular toy among children.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Crayola Crayons 3 of 10
    Crayola Crayons
    That peach crayon you're coloring with? Used to be called "flesh". But in the thick of the civil rights movement, 1962, Crayola voluntarily changed the crayon color known as "Flesh" to "Peach" thus proving that crayons are an equal opportunity mode of creativity. Later on in 1999 the color "Indian Red," based on a pigment from India, was changed to "Chestnut" to avoid any confusion as to the origin of the color.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Slinky 4 of 10
    Slinky
    In 1943 naval engineer Richard James was working with springs in an attempt to find a way to keep ship instruments stable in on naval battleships. By accident, he knocked one of the springs off a shelf and observed it as it crawled down a stack of books and onto the floor where it recoiled back into a perfect cylinder. It took two years for him to find the perfect steel gauge and coil and when he debuted the toy during the 1945 Christmas season, 400 were sold in the first 90 minutes.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Hula Hoop 5 of 10
    Hula Hoop
    Rumor is that Hula Hoops have been around since nearly 500 B.C. but did not obtain the fame and popularity they now enjoy until 1958 when Wham-O developed and successfully marketed a plastic hoop by giving them away at local playgrounds along with instructions on how to use them. Within four months of its introduction, twenty-five million Hula Hoops were sold. Talk about early viral marketing.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Play Doh 6 of 10
    Play Doh
    Play-Doh originated in Cincinnati, Ohio in the early 1930's, but not as the colorful modeling compound we know and love today. Originally Play-Doh was introduced and used as a wallpaper cleaner but was later discovered that children had been using the non-staining, non-toxic dough to make school projects and Christmas ornaments. Play-Doh was redesigned and repackaged in the mid 1950's and introduced as an educational tool for teachers and educators. It became popular as a toy with commercials running during children's programming in the late '50's and has enjoyed popularity ever since.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Silly String 7 of 10
    Silly String
    Despite the mess and environmental impact, Silly String, invented in 1972 as a novelty toy, has found its way into the hands of U.S. Troops serving in Iraq as a way to identify trip wires and explosive booby traps invisible to the naked eye or night vision goggles. By spraying the string on the path in front of them they can detect unseen wires if the brightly colored string does not fall all the way to the ground.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Tinkertoys 8 of 10
    Tinkertoys
    Tinkertoys were created a year after stonemason Charles H. Pajeau saw children playing with, and being thoroughly entertained by, thread spools and pencils in 1914. It took awhile for Tinkertoys to gain popularity but within two years of being introduced over two million Tinkertoy sets had been sold. Tinkertoys were admitted to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Magic 8 Ball 9 of 10
    Magic 8 Ball
    The patent for the Magic 8 Ball was filed in 1944 by Albert C. Carter, the son of a clairvoyant, and was based off a "spirit writing" device she used in readings. Carter died before the patent was approved in 1948 but store owner Max Levinson marketed the product as the Syco-Seer, unsuccessful at first, the Magic 8 Ball didn't gain popularity until billiards manufacturer Brunswick asked to have the ball made in the color scheme and shape of the number eight billiard ball in 1950. With 20 possible answers, 10 positive, 5 neutral and 5 negative, it would take approximately 72 questions to receive all 20 answers.
    Photo Credit: Flickr
  • Sock Monkey 10 of 10
    Sock Monkey
    Sock monkeys have a long history, but true sock monkeys originate from Rockford, Illinois and the Nelson Knitting Company, later bought by Fox River Mills. The distinctive red mouth of the sock monkey is actually the heel of a Rockford sock, the red heel let consumers know they were getting a genuine Rockford sock. Upon discovering the popularity of producing sock monkeys with their distinct socks, the Nelson Knitting Company was awarded the patent for sock monkeys in 1955 and has been including how-to instructions in sock packaging ever since. Both the socks and the monkeys are available on the Fox River Mills site today.
    Photo Credit: Flickr

MORE ON BABBLE:

The 33 most ridiculous toys of all time
50 toy fads that hooked us — Furbies, Gak, and more
The 26 most disturbing kids movies…EVER
35 vintage toys we wish were still in our closet
The 10 best toy storage ideas

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