Croquet was introduced to the United States in the early 1870’s. The sport was first taken up by high society in the New York area, but it soon achieved general popularity throughout the country. Lawn tennis was introduced here at about the same time, but from the 1870’s through the 1890’s, croquet enthusiasts far outnumbered the tennis players. A croquet set was mandatory equipment for every estate, and civic leaders provided sets for public parks, which previously had not had facilities for any sport played on grass.
Skates mounted to wooden rollers had been produced since the 1860’s (in Holland) but several innovative inventions during the late 1870’s and early 1880’s served to fuel the roller skating fad of the 1880’s. In 1876 a design for roller skates wheels was patented in England. In that same year the toe stop was invented allowing the skater to tip the skate onto the toe to stop. These innovations made roller skates practical for everyday use and set the stage for the roller skating fad that was about to come.
Children have played with dolls since the dawn of civilization. A fragment of an alabaster doll with movable arms was found that dated from the Babylonian period. Archeologists have found dolls in Egyptian tombs which date to as early as 2000 BC. Dolls have been found in the graves of Greek and Roman children. One of the earliest records of a doll “fad” dates to 1910 when Kewpie Dolls were all the rage.
It has one correct answer and forty three quintillion wrong ones. It can be solved in 25 seconds or less. Its inventor became the first self-made millionaire from the communist bloc. Rubik’s Cube, or Magic Cube as it was known in its native Hungary, was invented in 1974 but took it took several years before the craze hit and swept throughout America. In 30 years, over 300 million Rubik’s Cubes had been sold.
The Slinky or “Lazy Spring” toy has mesmerized children since the mid 1940’s. The helical spring toy stretches and then reforms itself using gravity and its own momentum. In its first sixty years, the Slinky company, lead by Betty James of Philadelphia, sold over 300 million units making the Slinky one of the most successful and highest selling toys of all time.
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.