Flashback To Fun Fads From the 70s

Let’s flashback to some fun fads from the 1970s. How many do you remember?

Wham-O SuperBall

Did you ever play with a SuperBall when you were a kid? Weren’t they the coolest thing ever?! I remember playing “Annie Annie Over” with the neighbor kids – throwing that SuperBall over the roof of my parents house to the kids on the other side and back. Ah…. the good old days.

It’s a good thing that Norman Stingley was conducting experiments with highly resilient synthetic rubber back in the early 1960s, because he accidentally produced an astonishing new toy – the SuperBall! When compressed under extreme pressure, the substance would bounce like crazy. The compound was called Zectron. More than 6 million of these bouncing balls had been sold by 1965! 


Pet Rock

What a clever idea that was! I remember having fun showing my friends how my Pet Rock could roll over and come to me when called {~smile~}.

Did you know that the Pet Rock was created in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl. He marketed the rocks as “live pets” that came in a cardboard box with straw and breathing holes. The Pet Rocks came with a manual that taught you how to play with your Pet Rock. Unfortunately, the fad only lasted about six months and were eventually discontinued shortly after that. In that short timespan, Gary Dahl became a millionaire – he sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks for $4 each. Not bad for a clever idea! 


Mood Ring

Remember the Mood Rings from the 1970s? I was so excited when I received one from my parents for a birthday. I thought it was really cool to see how much you could make that ring change color. I still have that ring, can you believe it?!

In 1975, two New York inventors (Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats) created the Mood Ring that became in instant fad. The ring contains a thermochromic element, such as liquid crystal, that changes colors based upon the temperature of the finger of the wearer. The rings came with a color chart to show you what “mood” you were in. Hmmm….. I might have to go dig that ring out of my jewelry box and start wearing it again…. Did you ever have a Mood Ring?


Sea Monkeys

I remember the first ad I saw for Sea Monkey’s – I was mesmerized by that ad! Little creatures that came to life, and played in a tank that you could watch? That sounded so cool! One year for my birthday, my parents bought me a Sea Monkey kit. I was SO excited! While I was slightly disappointed that the creatures really didn’t look like they did in the ad, I did really enjoy watching those creatures, and have since had several kits to share with my own kids.

Did you know that in 1957, it was Harold von Braunhut who discovered these true freaks of nature, and he also recognized their potential to become one of the greatest marketing opportunities in history. These creatures, known as Artemia NYOS, a relative to the brine shrimp, would appear dead out of water, and once introduced back into water they would mysteriously come back to life, without any suffered ill effects. He began to sell these creatures through mail order in the early 1960’s. They were packaged in a box labeled “Instant Life” and they were sold for $.49 through comic book advertisements. The fad kept growing – and now 60 years later – his freaks of nature are still charming kids everywhere.


Lava Lamps

Ah…. Lava Lamps. Back in 1963, Edward Craven Walker invented the first Lava Lamp. It had a special colored wax glob inside the glass shape that was surround with clear liquid. When you turned on the lamp in the base, the lamp heated up the wax and changed the density and viscosity of the wax. This warming caused the wax to rise through the surrounding liquid. When it cooled, it lost its buoyancy, and fell back to the bottom of the glass shape and the cycle repeated. The wax looked like pāhoehoe lava – which is how the lamp got it’s name.

I remember the Lava Lamp we had when I was a kid. I thought that lamp was SO COOL! It seemed that Mom always had that lamp on, and it was mesmerizing to watch. When I was first married, one of the first things I did was buy my own Lava Lamp – and I too always had that on. We STILL have a Lava Lamp in our house, and now our kids enjoy it! Do you have a lava lamp in your home?


Banana Seats and Sissy Bars

Do you remember banana seats and sissy bars from the 1960s and 1970s? I still remember my first Schwin Stingray bike. It was pink with a pink banana seat and a sissy bar. I used to give rides to my friends on the ape-hanger handlebars – they would sit in the middle of the handlebars while I peddled. I loved doing wheelies with that bike and going over jumps. Forever the daredevil!

Schwinn introduced the Sting-Ray in 1963 – modeled after a motorcycle. Sales were initially slow, but eventually took off. By 1965, several other American and foreign manufacturers were offering their own version of the Sting-Ray. Did you ever ride a Sting-Ray?


Smiley Face Pins

In 1963, H.R. Ball was working for an ad agency in Massachusetts when one of his clients asked him to come up with a way to soothe employees. He created the Smiley Face drawing, and was paid $45 for it. Unfortunately, he never trademarked the Smiley Face. This iconic drawing has been imprinted on more than fifty million buttons and is familiar around the world. This Smiley Face was even included on a United States postage stamp. Do you have a Smiley Face button from the 1960s in your collection?


What are some of your favorite fads from the 70s? Share in a comment below!

JayDee / ThirdShiftVintage.com

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  1. Thanks for giving me a “smiley face” with this trip back to the 70s!I was in college back then and didn’t have much timefor play. Weren’t frisbees out in the 70s?

  2. I was just at an auction where two old Schwinn bicycles with banana seats and sissy bars were sold. They were not in great shape but sold for several hundreds of dollars. The auctioneer said he has never seen one sell for under $600. Who knew our old bikes would be worth so much!

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