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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

'Hooping' Along

This Day in History: March 05, 1963

The Hula-Hoop, a waist-, limbs-, neck-swiveling toy, became a huge fad across America when it was first marketed by Wham-O in 1958. On this day in history, March 05, 1963, the Hula-Hoop is officially patented by the company's co-founder, Arthur "Spud" Melin. An estimated 25 million Hula-Hoops were sold in its first four months of production alone.

Girl twirling a Hula hoop, 1958
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
Those of us who grew up in the 50s-60s era probably consider that period of time as the beginning of the hula-hoop. Ah-h-h! I remember it well. It meant enjoying time outdoors, thus leaving household chores behind either completed or to be tended to later. More often it was the former since playtime was allowed only after chores were done.

Hula hooping meant fresh air and sunshine accompanied by fun exercise! The longer one could hoop the better. There were contests to enter and prizes to be won. 

It grew in popularity in the late 50s primarily because of the successful marketing of the plastic version. However, that was not the first time this little invention hit the scene. How did it get its start? Where did it begin? Who is credited for its invention?
History of the Hula Hoop

For some answers to these questions, we must go back in time to the Greeks. The first hula hoop was actually an ancient invention dating back to the 5th century. It is interesting that no single inventor can lay claim to the invention of the first hula hoop. Going back to the Greeks finds hooping as a form of exercise. Traditional materials for hoops have included dried-up willow, rattan (a flexible and strong vine), grapevines and stiff grasses

Homemade versions of the hula hoop became very popular around 1300 in Great Britain. British sailors first witnessed hula hooping in the Hawaiian Islands in the early 1800s. Because of the similarities in hula dancing and hooping the name "hula hoop" came into being. 

The hula hoop as we know it today got its start in 1957 when an Australian company started making wooden rings. These were sold in retail stores and attracted the attention of WHAM-O®, a fledgling California toy manufacturer. Wham-O had gotten its start in 1948 when the company began producing slingshots for 75 cents. With the introduction of the plastic hula hoop came instant success: more than 100 million hoops were sold in the first twelve months of production. This made Richard P. Knerr and Arthur K. Melin of Wham-O very rich men indeed!


Hula Hoop fever grips a 1950s family.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hooping was (and still is) not only for children nor limited to just one gender. It became a family affair in the 50s with competitions being held between siblings, parents, relatives and friends. What a great way to spend time with family usually sometimes followed by a picnic on the ground!

Another important aspect of the hula hoop's history is its connection to the Native American Indian.

 Native American Hoop Dance is a form of storytelling dance incorporating anywhere from one to 30 hoops as props, which are used to create both static and dynamic shapes, or formations, representing various animals, symbols, and storytelling elements. It is generally performed by a solo dancer with many hoops. (en.wikipedia.org)
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Hooping has not changed much throughout its history but its make-up definitely has taken on different applications. From its first inception of metal, bamboo, wood, grasses and even vines, modern versions advertise a variety of unusual materials. For example, plastic hula hoops contain bits of glitter and noise makers, sometimes with water inside the actual hoop and some hoops are completely collapsible. 

 Video of a woman hula hooping in Times Square, New York. 
(en.wikipedia.org)

  The hula hoop has seen fire and ice
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Amazing Fire Hoop Dance

  Hula Hoop queen Elena shows us how hula hooping should be done, 
as if it isn't hard enough to do without ice skates!!
 
How's this for hula hooping?
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The Best Hula Hoop Act

How about a movie, a documentary in fact?

Trailer: The Hooping Life film, the first film to chronicle today's groovy subcultural uprising of hula-hoopers who overthrow the shackles of convention turning a child's toy into club art, teacher's aid, and a redemptive tool.

I think I will get my hula hoop out of moth balls! What about you? Ready to give it a whirl?