Back to all articles

The History of Hula Hoops

While children have been playing with various hoops for centuries, the Hula Hoop didn’t come around until 1957, when Wham-O toy company founders Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin learned that children in Australia twirled bamboo hoops around their waists in gym class. Within a year, they created a hollow hoop using Phillips Petroleum’s newly developed plastic, Marlex. They named the toy the “Hula Hoop” because of the way that its users appeared to imitate the famous Hawaiian dance. In just 2 months, Wham-O sold 25 million hoops, and the company hit $45 million in sales in the first year. While adults typically purchased Hula Hoops for children, they also enjoyed the toys themselves. In the 1950s, lively person-to-person marketing at parks, playgrounds, and college campuses created a bona fide fad. But the toy was not without its detractors; in the 1950s, Japanese officials banned public Hula Hooping because they believed it incited impropriety. Today, Hula Hoops remain popular and are regularly enjoyed by children and adults alike. Some versions even make sounds, light up, or include fun decorations like glitter!

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.