Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Play-Doh Day


Today is the day to buy a fresh tub of Play-Doh, crack it open and shove your nose into it.  Well, that's my plan anyway.  I love the way that stuff smells!  I also love the smell of a fresh box of Crayola crayons.  I look forward to when school supplies come out because I grab a couple of boxes, sneak around the corner to open them and then inhale their glorious waxy scent....I think it could be an addiction.  But we aren't here today for an intervention.

It's National Play-Doh Day! 

 I love learning about the history of stuff.  Play-Doh has a fascinating background!  I am going to give a few highlights but highly recommend reading this more in depth history. 

Play-Doh, while showing up as a kid's modeling dough in 1955, was invented in 1933....as a wallpaper cleaner.  
During those years coal was the prime material used for heating in most homes.  Also during this time period, paper wallpaper (not easy to wash vinyl) was in most homes.  As you can imagine the terrible soot that quickly built up on the walls was difficult to remove.  The Kutol company came up with a malleable material that could be rolled along the surface to pick up the debris. 


After WWII, coal was replaced by gas and easier to clean wall surfaces replaced paper wall coverings.  The company was not doing so well, as their product was becoming obsolete. In 1955, a nursery school teacher and sister-in-law to one of Kutol's owner's, Kay Zufall (1926-2014) had read a newspaper article were grade schools would use wallpaper cleaner as an inexpensive way to make Christmas ornaments. She picked up a tub of the product and had her classes try it out with results just as much fun and imaginable as they are with today's children.  Kay also came up with the name "Play-Doh", as the owner's were going to call it Rainbow Modeling compound. Kutol set up a subsidiary called Rainbow Crafts to carry the Play-Doh brand.  Over the next few years the company worked on adding color (the wall cleaner was white) and removing the detergent from the original recipe.  They approached educational firms to buy the material for their schools in gallon sized tubs successfully.   


The biggest break for the company that placed them nationwide was when they approached Captain Kangaroo to use their product on his television show.   Rainbow Crafts didn't have a budget yet big enough for major advertising but made a deal with the Captain that he would get 2% of their sales.  He loved the product and used it on his show three times a week.
A set of Captain Kangaroo endorsed tubs.

Soon several other shows, Ding Dong School and Romper Room, started showcasing Play-Doh and it became a world wide phenomenon. Rainbow Crafts owned Play-Doh until 1964 when it was sold to General Mills/Kenner.

I really like how this product came about.  An obsolete product from a bygone era that cemented it's place in history through imagination and creativity. 

 As a side note, I wish they would release some of the old sets again.  This Pee-Wee Sculptor is odd.



I have fond memories of  playing with PB when he was little with Play-Doh.  When he was 3 years old he really liked Monster Trucks.  I came up with this idea for using the Play-Doh in a Jello mold we had that was of cars.  We then would set the Play-Doh cars up for his Monster Trucks to pounce on, smash, and leave nothing but flat pieces with tire treads behind. So much fun! Truthfully, he and I still pull out this stuff and play with it on occasion!

3 comments:

Crystal Hallowell said...

I remember when a cousin I didn't particularly like (and he turned out to be a pill when he was older, too, let me tell you) came over to "play" and took the little plastic parfait glasses from my toy kitchen and layered them with different colors of my play-doh and then smooshed it all down in the glasses so it all stuck together and ruined it! My brand new play-doh, ruined!

Clearly it traumatized me as I haven't forgotten it till this day and that was decades ago.

Jenn said...

What a fascinating history! I never knew it.

I love Play-Doh! My kids loved it too!


Crystal-that's terrible!

my house is cuter than yours said...

Crystal, your cousin was/is a little brat! You should get the biggest economy size set of Play-Doh available. Then sneak over to his house and secretly ruin something of his. I don't know how his gas tank suddenly became full of pastel glitter fun Play-Doh!
~mary~