Objects made of Play-Doh.
The non-toxic, non-staining, reusable modeling compound that came to be known as Play-Doh was originally a pliable, putty-like wallpaper cleaner concocted by Noah McVicker for Kutol Products, a family-owned Cincinnati-based soap company. Following World War II, McVicker’s nephew, Joseph McVicker, joined Kutol and discovered the wallpaper cleaner was being used by nursery school children to make Christmas ornaments.
Joe McVicker took Play-Doh to an educational convention for manufacturers of school supplies, and Woodward & Lothrop, a department store in Washington, DC began selling the compound. In 1956, the McVickers formed the Rainbow Crafts Company to make and sell Play-Doh. Also in 1956, a three-pack of 7-ounce cans was added to the product line, and, after in-store demonstrations, Macy’s of New York and Marshall Field’s of Chicago opened retail accounts. In 1957, chemist Dr. Tien Liu reduced Play Doh’s salt content (thus allowing models to dry without losing their color), and Play-Doh ads were telecast on Captain Kangaroo, Ding Dong School, and Romper Room. In 1958, Play-Doh’s sales reached nearly $3 million.
In 1964, Play-Doh was exported to England, France, and Italy, and, in the 1980s, its cardboard can (with a rust-prone metal bottom) was scuttled for a more cost effective plastic container. By 1965, Rainbow Crafts was issued a patent for Play-Doh. Also in 1965, General Mills purchased Rainbow Crafts and all rights to Play-Doh for $3 million, placing the compound with its Kenner Products subsidiary. In 1971, Rainbow Crafts and Kenner Products merged, and, in 1987, the Tonka Corporation bought the two. In 1991, Hasbro became Play-Doh’s owner, and continues to manufacture the product today through its Playskool division. In 1996, gold and silver were added to Play-Doh’s palette to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
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Play-Doh packaging was briefly illustrated with children in the mid-1950s, but replaced by an elfin mascot which, in 1960, was superseded by Play-Doh Pete, a smock and beret-wearing cartoonish boy. In 2002, Play-Doh Pete’s beret was replaced with a baseball cap.
Play-Doh’s current manufacturer, Hasbro, reveals the compound contains water, salt, and wheat flour, while its 2004 United States patent indicates it is composed of water, a starch-based binder, a retrogradation inhibitor, salt, lubricant, surfactant, preservative, hardener, humectant, fragrance, and color. A petroleum additive gives the compound a smooth feel, and borax prevents mold from developing.
Play-Doh is a nontoxic, easy-to-use, easy-to-clean up modeling compound packaged in a variety of colors used principally by children for arts and crafts projects at home and in school. Besides being hand-molded into animals, flowers, and other objects, Play-Doh can be sent through extruders created for the purpose to produce rope-like strands of different shapes. Besides molding and extruding, children simply enjoy squashing, mashing, and rolling the compound.
In addition to children’s projects and play, a replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello has been constructed with more than 2,500 bricks of Play-Doh, and, to celebrate Play-Doh’s fiftieth anniversary in 2006, a larger-than-life birthday cake with more than 40 pounds of Play-Doh as its main ingredient was “baked” at New York City’s American International Toy Fair by Warren Brown, host of Food Network’s Sugar Rush.
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Play-Doh Fun Factory (1960)
In 1960, the Play-Doh Fun Factory (a toy press that extrudes the compound in various shapes) was invented by Bob Boggild and Bill Dale. The Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper Barber & Beauty Shop of 1977 featured a figurine whose extruded “hair” could be styled. Making its debut in 1996 for computer-savvy young modelers was an educational software CD-ROM game, Play-Doh Creations, and, in 2003, the Play-Doh Creativity Table was made available. Play-Doh related merchandise introduced during the 2007 anniversary year included the Play-Doh Birthday Bucket, the Play-Doh Fifty Colors Pack, the Fuzzy Pumper Crazy Cuts (a reworking of the 1977 Fuzzy Pumper Barber & Beauty Shop), and the Play-Doh Creativity Center.
More than two billion cans of Play-Doh were sold between 1955 and 2005, and, in 2005, Play-doh was being sold in 75 countries around the world at 95 million cans a year.
To mark Play-Doh’s fiftieth anniversary, Demeter Fragrance Library created a limited-edition fragrance inspired by Play-Doh’s odor for “highly-creative people, who seek a whimsical scent reminiscent of their childhood.”
In 2003, the Toy Industry Association placed Play-Doh into its “Century of Toys List”, a roll call of the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the twentieth century.
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“Play-doh”. Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing. pp. 115–120. ISBN 9780740755712.
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The Way Toys Work: The Science Behind the Magic 8 Ball, Etch A Sketch, Boomerang, and More. Chicago Review Press. p. 96. ISBN 9781556527456.
^ a b “Toy Industry Association Announces Its Century of Toys List”. Business Wire. 21 January 2003. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
^ a b “Rainbow Crafts Company, Inc.”. Ohio History Central. 28 July 2006. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
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^ Phil Ament. “Play-Doh History – Invention of Play-Doh”. Ideafinder.com. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
^ “The 50 Year History of Play-Doh”. 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
^ Noah W. McVicker and Joseph S. McVicker, “Plastic modeling composition of a soft, pliable working consistency,” U.S. patent no. 3,167,440 (filed: May 17, 1960; issued: January 26, 1965).
^ “Patent Storm”. Retrieved 19 February 2009.
^ Rich, Mark (2005).
Warman’s 101 Greatest Baby Boomer Toys. KP Books. p. 199. ISBN 0-89689-220-4.
^ Wulffson, Don L. (2000).
Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions. Henry Holt. p. 105. ISBN 0805061967. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
^ “Play-Doh Brand Modeling Compound Makes a Scent-Sational Debut as It Celebrates 50 Years”. Business Wire. 1 May 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2008.