Monthly Archives: December 2012

Hula Hoops and Plastics in History

‘Tis the season when many of us celebrate a holiday that involves a wish list and gifts. Reflecting back on the Hula Hoop, a favorite of the past can remind us of how to enjoy the kid that resides in all of us.

What’s on your wish list this year? In 1957 one favorite was the Hula Hoop. But before the plastic hoops became popular they had a long, long history. Plastic hoops were made by Toltoys after production of bamboo hoops couldn’t keep up with demand in Australia. Stories say that Wham-O heard about the Aussie phenomenon and began making colorful polyethylene hoops in the U.S. The original Hula-Hoops cost just $1.98 each. (Today they cost from around $5.00 and up depending on the style.) The initial blast of popularity was short-lived but the Hula-Hoop continues on.

In the 1960’s, much to the dismay of parents hoping for quiet toys, small ball bearings were added so you got the cool shoop shoop noise with every swing. (My first one was semi-translucent hot pink!) In 1980 there was even a nationwide championship where contestants brought out their best Hula Hoop moves. Some of the moves included: The Knee Knocker, Wrap the Mummy, and The Stork.
Today Hula Hoops come in many sizes and even weights. They are used as a workout aid, a dog agility test, and we see them in dance, art, and yup – the backyard.


But that leads to one last question – how did the Hula Hoop get it’s name?

Pre-Hula HoopLong before the Aussie craze hoops were popular toys in Great Britain. In addition to seeing how long they could keep a hoop going around their waist, boys and girls happily chased hoops in races to see who could keep their hoop rolling the longest distance. The story behind the name is that sailors, coming back from the Hawaiian Islands thought the movement needed to keep a hoop going around the waist looked a lot like the lovely Hula dancers they saw during their travels. Hence the name Hula Hoop was born. Oh, and that movement actually caused them to be banned in Japan for awhile. It was seen as a little too racy.

I hope the Hula Hoop memories and history bring you the inspiration to be a kid again this holiday season. We also hope you’ll share what’s on your wish list.

See you in the blogosphere again soon!

Lisa Anderson

Marketing Manager
ThyssenKrupp Materials, NA
AIN Plastics Division

for more on hoops and their history see these online blogs and articles as well:

for more about the material polyethylene: