Who: Modern iteration invented by Arthur K. Melin and Richard Knerr. Not the potato chips.
What: A toy hoop twirled around the waist.
Where: California, USA.
Why: Because, at least for ten minutes, it’s really fun.
When: July 1958.
“Yes, I backed the hula hoop. And I had a lot of other people come to me with ideas that turned out well.” – Art Linkletter
Supposedly invented by Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy, and in real life by Arthur K. Melin and Richard Knerr, the hula hoop is possibly the best-selling ten minutes of fun in history. Though it was commercialised and marketed properly for the first time in 1958, people have been playing with hoops for thousands of years. The Native Americans used hoops in expressive dances, and there was supposedly a hoop fad in 14th Century England. The word ‘hula’ comes from the Hawaiian dance, due to the similar body movements. It became a fad in the late 1950s after being marketed by the California Wham-O toy company, and at the peak of its success the company were producing more than 50,000 hoops a day. It later spawned ‘hooping’, which is essentially adults taking this child’s toy too seriously, or using the hoop as a fitness tool. In August 1976, 8-year-old child hooping prodigy (and the daughter of possible contenders for worst parents ever) Mary Freeze broke the world record for hooping, twirling the hoop for 10 hours and 47 minutes. The current verified record belongs to Aaron Hibbs from Columbus, Ohio, who managed a whopping 74 hours and 54 minutes, and was probably a little disappointed he couldn’t manage an extra six minutes. The record for the most hula hoops twirled at once belongs to Paul “Dizzy Hips” Blair (no guesses as to how he got his nickname), who somehow managed to twirl 132 hoops at once.