|Kyra Maniac... Hula Hoop enthusiast|
Hoops were nothing new and indeed kids had been rolling them around with a stick since Adam was a pup. They've been used for exercise, fun, acrobatics, sports and recreation. Way back in the 1300s doctors even prescribed them as a gentle activity for healing dislocated backs.(Wiki) It was also around this time that the term 'hula' was applied to hoops, evidently as a result of British sailors noticing the similarity between the hip swinging of a hula hooper and the exotic dancing of the Hawaiian Islands.
However it took the promotional efforts of the fabulously named Wham-O toy company in the US, who were the first to come up with the plastic version, to really turn hula hooping into a widespread fad. During the 50s and 60s it seemed everyone was doing it - kids, housewives, Dads, Grandmothers, travelling salesmen (but only if they were selling hoops).
In the first few months of the plastic hula hoops release onto a hula-ready general public (July, 1958 to be precise), millions were sold and in two years that figure stretched to an eye-bulging 100 million. The top brass at Wham-O must have thought they'd discovered a license to print money.At it's peak, the fad was driving the production of 50,000 hula hoops a day. They were cheap, colourful, fun for five minutes and everyone had to have one.
|Australian Hula Hoop princesses from the 50s. Image from The Age|
Every year, in numerical sequence starting from 2007-07-07 and continuing through 2012-12-12 hoopers dance in every city and country to raise money and donate hoops to others who can't afford them...Well that's good to hear - they're a fun, cheap and healthy way to get some exercise in this sit-down contemporary culture. Viva la Hula!
|One is hard enough but sixty? Circus pro with her hoops|