Category: 1950’s Trends


Panty Raids (1950’s)

The first documented panty raid took place on February 25, 1949 at the 100-year-old Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Perhaps inspired by the military training the young students had received in World War II, one hundred twenty male students raided the girls dormitories after cutting the electricity and phone lines. The men raided Carlson Hall through heating tunnels located beneath the school. Once they were able to enter, the unlocked the doors for the remaining raiders to enter. Likely the women had advanced warning and some even sprayed large amounts of perfume on the attackers “so they could be identified later.”


Hula Hoop (1960’s)

Hula Hoops, the round hoop toy that is twirled around the waist, arms, legs, and neck, became popular in the late 1950’s when a new plastic version was marketed by California’s Wham-O toy company. The toy could not be patented because “hoop” toys were an ancient invention.


Car Stuffing (1950’s)

In late 1959, as bored students returned from summer vacation, the sport of phone booth stuffing morphed into a new form. Volkswagen stuffing became all the rage as students tried to stuff as many people as possible into a Volkswagen car. The fad began in 1959 and peaked in the mid 1960’s when a record 18 people stuffed themselves into a Volkswagen bug.


Phone Booth Stuffing (1950’s)

In early 1959, twenty five students attempted something nobody had ever tried before. The South African students of Durban tried to see if all twenty five could fit into a phone booth. They succeeded and submitted their achievement to the Guinness Book of World Records. Soon, others heard about the bizarre stunt and attempts at phone booth stuffing (or cramming) began all over the world.


3-D (Three Dimensional) Movie Craze (1950’s)

For Hollywood, the 1950’s presented a plethora of obstacles. A weather-beaten Hollywood had to contend with new competition from the highly successful television market. To counter TV, Hollywood looked for gimmicks to attract moviegoers. Once such device was a newly improved medium – the three dimensional or 3D movie.


TV Dinners (1950’s)

After poor Thanksgiving sales left Swanson Foods with a huge surplus of turkeys, Swanson executive Gerry Thomas conceived an idea – what if they packaged the turkeys with other foods in an easy to prepare meal container, similar to what airlines in that era served passengers on domestic flights. When Swanson invented the TV dinner in 1953, they estimated production of 5,000 dinners for the first year and ramped manufacturing accordingly. By the end of the first year, Swanson had sold more than 10 million of the 98 cent turkey and dressing TV-Dinner meals.


Drive-In Movies (1950’s)

Always on the lookout for the next great new idea, Hollingshead noted that even though the Great Depression was in full swing, people still found money to attend movies at their local theater. He pondered the means to combine his auto parts business with movies and dreamt of opening a deluxe gas station and auto repair shop that featured a restaurant and movies for the customers to watch while they customers waited for their car repairs to be completed. His invention, the drive-in movie, exploded in popularity during the height of the 1950’s car culture.


Silly Putty (1950’s)

Silly Putty has been marketed under many names since it was invented – Thinking Putty, Bouncing Putty, Tricky Putty, Nutty Putty, and even Potty Putty. It rose to prominence in the 1950’s and became one of the most successful toys of the twentieth century. Its wartime discovery was pure accident.