Five Popular Toys That Have Been Around for over 75 Years

Looking past the sounds and blinking lights of modern technology, you may have fond memories of toys and games you enjoyed in your youth. Chances are, your parents (and their parents) may have played with the same things you did growing up. They say some of the best things last the longest, and this is certainly true with the products in this list.

LEGO

While the LEGO brand has only been around for just over 60 years, the concept of building with interconnecting blocks has been around for quite a bit longer. Building sets that closely resemble what would become the product line of LEGO began appearing in the 1920s, and while the materials and packaging may look a world apart from today’s LEGO sets, the concept was pretty much the same. In the video below, Michael “FAIL TOYS” Mozart joins Chris Pirillo to discuss the history of interlocking bricks, and just how far back it really goes.

In the 1930s, a company was founded by carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen for the purpose of building wooden building toys for children. Over time, the company expanded its reach and the first plastic interlocking bricks were introduced to the LEGO product line in 1949.

Teddy Bears

Five Popular Toys That Have Been Around for over 75 YearsWho didn’t grow up with a teddy bear? These stuffed bears provide comfort for infants, entertainment for kids, and decorative pieces for adults. In some cases, stuffed bears are passed down from generation to generation as family heirlooms. Did you know the teddy bear was originally mass produced in the early 1900s after a political cartoon inspired a candy shop owner to create stuffed bears?

The cartoon that inspired him featured a depiction of President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a bear that had been tied to a tree by his assistants during a hunting contest. While the move may not have won him the contest, it struck a chord with everyone that heard the story.

The exact origins of the mass produced stuffed bear are disputed, as another toymaker began creating their own stuffed bears at the time, but the name that stuck was surely based on Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.

Mechanical Puzzles

Mechanical puzzles are often 3D puzzles with interlocking parts that become a solid mass or recognizable shape when assembled correctly. In order to put them together, the puzzle solver often needs to follow a specific set of steps in order for it to come together properly. Puzzles like these have existed since as far back as ancient Greece, and possibly even further. Made out of materials like wood, metal, and now plastic, mechanical puzzles are designed to make the solver think logically and in ways other puzzles don’t. Immensely popular in the early 20th century, these puzzles can still be found almost anywhere today in stores ranging from those dedicated to toys and gaming to convenience stores as a way to occupy someone during a long trip. Some of them have a trick to them that, once discovered, can be repeated very quickly while others require a different solution each time, like the Rubik’s Cube.

Hoops

The hula hoop is often mistaken for being a product of the 1950s, but it has actually been around since at least as far back as 500 BCE. Originally made out of wooden materials, the hoop is still one of the most popular toys sold today. Hooping was even considered to be a treatment for ailments including back pain and even heart attack. The whirling motion used to keep the device in the air inspired the addition of the term Hula after British travelers visited the Hawaiian islands in the 1300s. Today, these hoops are typically made out of plastic and come in a large variety of styles, sizes, and colors.

Marbles

Still holding somewhat strong in the toy market are these little colorful round stones called marbles. The marble was first mass produced in the 1800s, but their origins date back to ancient Egypt. Marbles have been made out of a variety of materials including marble, alabaster, stone, ceramic, porcelain, clay, glass, and synthetic materials. There are over dozens of different games that have been invented using these tiny round spheres. In addition, marbles are often given nicknames to describe their appearance or various materials used in their creation. Marbles handmade with certain materials or by a specific creator can be worth quite a lot to a collector.

No matter what kind of toys you grew up with, there’s a good chance that you’ve experienced at least one of these listed here, and by doing so, you’ve experienced something that your ancestors shared in their childhood.

What games and toys of your past will you pass on to your children? Can you think of any new toys that you think will stand the test of time and remain popular for the next 75 years and beyond?

Roosevelt and the Teddy Bear Cartoon by Clifford Berryman via Wikipedia.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Paulsub63

    You might want to check your dates: Hula…
    after British travelers visited the Hawaiian islands in the 1300s.
    I don’t think any British travelers hit Hawaii until maybe the 1700s or 1800s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karl.entner Karl Entner

    What about etch’aSketch that has been around for a long time as well. I remember having one of those at my place.