In the 1800s, British sailors first witnessed hula dancing in the Hawaiian Islands. The sailors noticed that the body movements of hula dancing and hooping looked quite similar, and the name “hula hoop” was born.
The hula hoop has undergone many changes, improvements and modifications over the years. Hula hoops were not always made of plastic. Older hoops were made from various materials, including metal, bamboo, wood, grass and sometimes even vines.
While they may not be the inventors of the hula hoop, Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Melin of the Wham-O company hold the trademark on the name “hula hoop.” In 1958, Wham-O began manufacturing the toy out of plastic tubing. Wham-O sold 25 million hula hoops in the first four months at a price of $1.98 each.
By the end of their second year of sales, Wham-O had sold more than 100 million hula hoops. They continue to be one of the most successful manufacturers of modern hula hoops.
Today, Wham-O continues to produce a variety of well-known recreational games and toys, including the hula hoop, Hacky Sack®, Slip-n-Slide, Frisbee and Boogie Board.
There is even an international multiyear celebration called “World Hoop Day.” It began on 7-7-07 and will continue through 12-12-12.
On World Hoop Day each year, hula hoopers gather in cities around the world to dance, hoop and raise money to donate hula hoops to children around the world who cannot afford them. The final two World Hoop Days will take place on 11-11-11 and 12-12-12.