What is a Hula-Hoop&Reg;?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2019
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Hula-Hoop® is a trademark toy of the California-based Wham-O company—also the makers of Frisbee®, Superball®, Hacky Sack®, and Slip 'N Slide — who introduced the Hula-Hoop® to the market in 1958. The Hula-Hoop® was developed by Wham-O founders, Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr based on a concept from Australia.

The use of hoops as toys and exercise equipment goes back very far in numerous cultures. Hoops were rolled and used for other games, but several cultures specifically used them for swinging around the body — either at the waist or elsewhere. This was done, for example, by the Lakota Indians in North America.

The story goes that in the 1950s, a school teacher in Sydney was using a bamboo hoop with her students in a physical education class, teaching them to roll the hoops around their waists by swaying rhythmically. Bamboo hoops were the first to be manufactured, and a toymaker named Alex Tolmer investigated the possibility of mass-production.

Tolmer developed a hoop made of polyethylene. It was lighter than the bamboo hoops, and less expensive as well. Tolmer’s company, Toltoys, sold 400,000 of the hoops in 1957. Toltoys and Wham-O had a relationship, and Melin and Knerr were interested in further developing the hoop. A deal was struck, and Wham-O trademarked the name Hula-Hoop®.


After some design changes, Melin and Knerr began bringing their Hula-Hoop® to the public in 1958, just one year after the launch of the popular Frisbee®. They did playground promotions, and advertised on national television. The Hula-Hoop® became such a fad that they sold twenty-five million of the product in just four months. Competitors, seeing how infatuated people were, quickly came up with similar products.

In the sixties, after an abrupt drop in sales, Wham-O added ball bearings inside each Hula-Hoop® to create a sound when they whirl. Other innovations include folding Hula-Hoops®, and various dimensions to fit people with different waist sizes.


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Post 1

Some people still use and love their hula hoop. It is a very good exercise tool for the mid section.

If you can keep your upper and lower body stationary and just move your abdomen section and hips, you are in for a fun exercise.

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