According to Hallmark, today is National Play-Doh Day! We're not sure what September 16th has to do with Play-Doh, but here are some fun facts about the toy that started as a household cleaner.
1. Play-Doh was first sold as a wallpaper cleaner. People could remove soot and dirt from their wall coverings by simply rolling the wad of goop across the surface.
2. We might not have Play-Doh if it weren't for Captain Kangaroo. When it was just a fledgling company with no advertising budget, inventor Joe McVicker talked his way in to visit Bob Keeshan, A.K.A. Captain K. Although the company couldn’t pay the show outright, McVicker offered them two percent of Play-Doh sales for featuring the product once a week. Keeshan loved the compound and began featuring it three times weekly. After that, it caught on like wildfire and was featured on DingDongSchool and Romper Room.
3. Since its inception, two billion cans of Play-Doh have been sold. Not bad for wallpaper cleaner. If you took all of that Play-Doh ever made and wadded it into a giant ball, it would weigh as much as 2,000 Statues of Liberty.
4. Back when it was a household cleaner, the product came in only one dud of a color: off-white. When it hit stores as a toy in 1955, red, blue and yellow were available. These days, you can find nearly every color of the rainbow, but a consumer poll taken in 2000 revealed that the fan favorites are rose red, purple paradise, garden green and blue lagoon.
5. For quite some time, Dr. Tien Liu had a resume blurb no one else in the world could claim: Play-Doh expert. Liu helped perfect the Play-Doh formula for the original company, Rainbow Crafts, and stayed on as a Play-Doh Expert when the modeling compound was purchased by Kenner and then Hasbro.
6. Want to smell like Play-Doh? You can. Demeter Fragrance Library worked with Hasbro to make the fragrance to commemorate Play-Doh’s 50th anniversary. Hasbro said the fragrance is "meant for highly creative people, who seek a whimsical scent reminiscent of their childhood."
7. When biometric scanners were a bit more primitive, people discovered that you could make a mold of a person’s finger, then squish Play-Doh in the mold to make a replica of the finger that would actually fool fingerprint scanners. That won’t work with today's more sophisticated systems.
8. The Play-Doh Dr. Drill ‘n Fill set seems a bit bizarre to me. It consisted of a giant head with a giant set of teeth for you to improve – jam Play-Doh in a cavity-riddled tooth to “fill” it or even pull teeth past saving with the pliers that came with the set. Check it out:
Despite the weird Dr. Drill ‘n Fill, it seems most Play-Doh sets are meant to encourage kids to eat the pliable putty, a habit that kids seem prone to anyway. Food-based sets include Breakfast Time (complete with Play-Doh waffle iron), Burger Builder, Spaghetti Factory, Barbeque Playset, Ice Cream Shoppe, Fun Food Poppin Movie Snacks, Pizza Party, Sweet Creations, Sandwich Shop, Fabulous Fruits… man, I kind of have a hankering for some salty, nontoxic dough right now…
9. You can make your own Play Doh. Here are several different recipes, including an edible peanut butter dough.
10. That little guy on the box? His name is Play-Doh Pete. He has evolved quite a bit over the years – back in the early days, the Play-Doh mascot was a somewhat creepy-looking elf. Sometime in the ‘60s, the mascot morphed into a beret-wearing boy and picked up the name Pete. Although his looks and style changed a little over the years, Pete didn’t drop the beret until the 1990s, when he picked up more of a teenage look and a cool new baseball cap.
Happy National Play-Doh Day to you and yours!