Saturday, December 22, 2007

Island of Misfit Toys

In this Holiday Season, minds often turn toward toys.
The Chicago Tribune recently ran an article about some
lesser-known facts about some popular toys:

Play-Doh was invented as a wallpaper cleaner.

When Milton Bradley bought the concept for a game called
Pretzel, it changed the name to Twister. The game soared
in popularity in 1966 after Johnny Carson played it with
actress Eva Gabor on his television show.

The Chicago area has been a healthy playground for toymakers.
The Radio Flyer red metal wagon was born in Chicago, and the
headquarters remains here, though the metal wagons are now
made in China. Tinkertoys were designed in Evanston by Charles
Pajeau. Donald Duncan, a businessman from Oak Park, popularized
the yo-yo, bringing joy to millions, but perhaps not making up
for his nefarious promotion of another product, the dreaded
parking meter.

The 1964 television special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
featured the Island of Misfit Toys, where unwanted playthings
were exiled. The original program omitted the misfits in its
happy ending -- an oversight that brought viewer complaints.
For the rebroadcast the next year, footage was added to show
Santa delivering the misfits on Christmas Eve.

Gumby toys were ubiquitous in the 1960s as the television
show gained popularity. The claymation character's name came
from Michigan farm slang: Creator Art Clokey's father referred
to a muddy clay road as a "gumbo."

You know her as Barbie. But her full name is Barbara Millicent
Roberts. By various estimates, 10 percent to 25 percent of adults
who collect Barbies are men -- not that there's anything wrong
with that.

When Hooters waitress Jodee Berry won a 2001 beer-sales contest
at her Florida restaurant, she thought the prize was a Toyota.
Instead, the restaurant gave her a "toy Yoda" -- a "Star Wars"
doll -- in what her manager called an April Fool's joke. Berry
laughed all the way to her lawyer's office. The case was settled,
with Berry getting enough money to buy a car, the lawyer said.

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