Terrific longread on the origins of Wham-O

Jake Rossen takes a deep dive into the iconic American novelty toy company Wham-O and its storied history.

Original Wham-O Frisbee Pluto-Platter (via Mike Mozart)

Wham-O sold 100 million hula hoops in 16 months, but the business had no money to show for it. So they started cranking out more novelties, most of which were flops, but every now and again, something would catch.

Via Mental Floss:

In an era dominated by toymakers who had been around for decades, Wham-O innovated or acquired revolutionary ideas: the Frisbee, Slip 'N Slide, Super Ball, Silly String, and dozens of novelty items, all bearing their unique brand aesthetic. Melin and Knerr were boyhood friends, mugging for cameras and dreaming up ideas—like a mink button that could cover a woman's navel—too ridiculous for larger companies to ever consider. Anyone, anywhere, could submit an idea to them and potentially get a royalty deal.

Litigation, changing tastes, and corporate shrinkage would eventually undo Wham-O. But not before Melin and Knerr wound up radically reinventing the concept of having fun.

The Men Who Invented Fun: A History of Wham-O (Mental Floss)