Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the hula hoop toy. For the snack food, see Hula Hoops.
The hula hoop is a toy hoop that promotes physical activity. Today it is often made of plastic and twirled around the waist or limbs.
Children around the world have always played with hoops, twirling, rolling and throwing them. The hoops were made of grapevines and stiff grasses. In Egypt around 3000 years ago, hoops made out of grape vines were propelled around the ground with sticks. In ancient Greece their use was recommended for losing weight. In the 14th century, "hooping" was popular in England and medics blamed it for heart attacks and back dislocations. The word "hula" was added in the early 18th century as sailors that visited Hawaii noticed the similarity between hula dancing and hooping.
In 1957 the hula hoop was reinvented by two college graduates, Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin, who had founded the Wham-O company in 1948 and now had their breakthrough. The idea came from a Californian who had visited Australia who told Knerr and Melin about children twirling bamboo hoops around the waist in gym class. So the new Hula Hoops were created with Marlex, a recently invented durable plastic (where the hoop hype helped as a kickstarter for Marlex production). Today the hula hoop is known as the biggest and most profitable fad of the 1950s.
After the hoop was released in 1958, Wham-O sold over 100 million in two years. This was referenced in the 1994 movie The Hudsucker Proxy by the Coen Brothers. As the fad burned out, Wham-O again struck lucky with the release of their Frisbee.
Nationally Ranked Competitive Hula Hoopers: Benjy Bronk, Lori Lynn Lomeli
It created a dance, the most famous dancer being Adriano Celentano.
The past few years have seen the re-emergence of hula hooping. These 21st century hoopers are making their own (much larger and heavier) hoops out of polyethylene tubing.
- Hooping.org a group weblog dedicated to serving the revolutionary hooping community. Includes photos, discussion boards and information on hooping events.
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