Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

(Old) Christmas Dreams Toys of the Past That Were on Must-Have List

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

(Old) Christmas Dreams Toys of the Past That Were on Must-Have List

Article excerpt

IN this year's mad rush to find Tickle Me Elmo or Nintendo 64 to put under the tree for those kids of yours, it might help to remember Christmases Past, when these things were the stuff of Christmas dreams for once-upon-a-time children, maybe even you.

Davy Crockett coonskin caps

First sighting: 1955 When Fess Parker hit the airwaves in December 1954 as "Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter," he wore what may have been the first of the "gotta-have-it" toys: the coonskin cap. The caps became so popular that the price of raccoon tails quadrupled from 2 to 8 cents each. Life magazine dubbed the trend "A Crisis in Coonskin," saying that the situation had come to a question of "which will be exhausted first: the supply of raccoons or the parents who have to buy the caps." Hula Hoops First sighting: 1958 The men of Wham-O stumbled on the Hula Hoop concept at a toy fair, when an Australian visitor told them about a game in his native land that entailed bamboo hoops and wriggling hips. They created the brightly colore d plastic hoop and gave it to kids in Pasadena as a low-cost marketing ploy. The kids were filmed by local television news stations, the broadcast went national, and soon America was wild for the Hula Hoop. A hundred million $1.98 Hula Hoops sold the first year, as kids and grown-ups alike gyrated and wiggled with the plastic hoops. But fame was fleeting, and by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal proclaimed "Hoops Have Had It." Smurfs First sighting: 1958 They were tiny and blue, "three apples high," in the words of their creator, Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford. He drew the first Smurfs in the late '50s, culling from the trolls and wee folk of Nordic fairy tales. While they achieved international popularity in the '60s, they didn't become an American hit until the late '70s, when Fred Silverman, then chief of NBC, bought a Smurf doll for his daughter in France. She was so thrilled by the doll that Silverman had animation giants Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera create a cartoon based on the blue guys. At their peak, Saturday-morning Smurf cartoons drew higher Nielsen rankings than the most popular nighttime show, "Dallas. …

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