We might like to think that all of our favorite toys were created with a lot of thought, care, and ingenuity, but often times they were complete accidents.
Several of the classic toys we were obsessed with when we were growing up weren’t originally created with the intention of becoming a kid’s toy, but once they made the switch, they became more successful than they could have ever imagined.
Here are the most iconic toys that you absolutely played with that had very different origins than what you’d expect:
It’s bouncy, stretchy, and all around fun, but where did it come from? Well, Silly Putty was created way back during World War II because there was a shortage of rubber. Researchers were trying to find an alternative, so they mixed silicone oil and boric acid and ended up with this bizarre substance.
It was non-toxic, bouncy, it could even pull ink off of newspapers, and it didn’t mold. The one thing it couldn’t do was replace rubber.
It wasn’t until 1949 that toy store owner Ruth Falgatter discovered the substance and started marketing it as a toy. It didn’t sell very well, at least not until she contacted a marketing consultant named Peter Hodgson who put it in plastic eggs and gave it the name Silly Putty.
Slinkys were invented after a Naval mechanical engineer named Richard James knocked over a prototype spring onto the floor. Apparently he saw it “walk” several times, stepping onto a stack of books and then onto the table and then onto the floor, before landing in a little pile like we all know that Slinkys do.
His wife Betty later revealed what he said after seeing that. “He came home and said, ‘I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension; I could make it walk.’”
After trying different types of steel and tension, he finally found the perfect formula. He eventually came up with a faster way of processing them and was able to sell millions of them.
Those aren’t the only toys that were invented by mistake…
It’s the one toy that we can all identify just by the smell of it, and no matter how old we are, it’s still fun to play with. Play-Doh was arguably the most fun toy imaginable, especially because of all of the fun play sets they made. Do you know how many Play-Doh spaghetti plates I’ve made? Or Play-Doh haircuts I’ve given?
Well, it all had to start somewhere, but it was never actually thought to be a toy until years after it was developed. Originally, because Play-Doh was a non-staining, reusable putty that was made by a soap manufacturer, it was used to clean coal residue off of the wallpaper.
However after WWII, coal heating started to become less popular, so there was less of a need to clean wallpaper. As sales decreased, they realized that they needed a new strategy. That’s when they saw an article about people making art projects out of Play-Doh.
So then they began to alter the formula so it would dry without losing color saturation and repackaged it for kids. And to this day, childhood isn’t complete without Play-Doh.
The original intention of silly string was actually for medical purposes, not a toy at all. In 1972, the patent that was obtained was for a “foamable resinous composition,” which was supposed to be used as an instant cast for broken or sprained limbs.
When they were testing out the nozzles, the inventors accidentally sprayed it across the whole room in a string form, and they realized that it could also be a toy.
They altered the formula to be less adhesive and to have more colors, and then they decided to team up with a toy company because they were scientists, not salesmen.
At their meeting with Wham-O, they were said to have dumped out an entire can on the person they was meeting with, who then asked them to leave. I guess they didn’t stay mad long, because the next day, the inventors received a telegram that they wanted to sign their product.
It was rebranded as Silly String and then it was sold all across North America.