Happy birthday, Hula Hoop
Yesterday was the 50th birthday of the Hula Hoop, another classic Wham-O Inc. toy that holds a special place in plastics industry history. I've seen and heard the story many times, and this version from the Houston Business Journal sums it up pretty well. The short version: Phillips Petroleum Co. was trying to commercialize high density polyethylene in the 1950s, but its huge new commercial reactor was making way too much off-spec resin. Customers canceled orders, and Phillips had warehouses filled with resin that no one wanted. Then Wham-O introduced the Hula Hoop, which used Phillips' Marlex-brand resin, and demand for the hoops was far beyond expectations -- 25 million in the first four months, 100 million in the first year, according to Wikipedia. In no time, Phillips sold all of that off-spec resin to Hula Hoop makers. So happy birthday, Hula Hoop. I'm sure there are still some folks in Bartlesville, Okla, who will raise a glass and toast your success (and good timing) today.
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