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Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Play-Doh was first invented in the 1930s by Noah McVicker of Cincinnati-based soap manufacturer Kutol Product. It was originally devised as a product that could clean coal residue from wallpaper.

By the 1950s, wallpaper cleaning putty wasn't really used much anymore as people had transitioned away from coal heat. In a last ditch effort to save the dying company, McVicker’s nephew Joseph joined Kutol with the remit to save it from bankruptcy.

Joseph McVicker's sister-in-law, nursery school teacher Kay Zufall, had seen a magazine article about making art projects with the wallpaper cleaning putty. Knowing the trouble her brother-in-law’s company was in, she went out and bought a job lot of Kutol’s wallpaper cleaner, and found her kids had a blast using it.

Seeing the fun the kids were having with the putty, Zufall persuaded Joseph McVicker to manufacture it as a child’s toy. So in 1954, 22 years after it debuted as a wallpaper cleaner, the brightly colored, salty clay hit the shelves as a for pre-schooler's modelling product.

Objects made out of Play-Doh. By © Nevit Dilmen, Wikipedia

Zufall and her husband came up with the name Play-Doh; Joe McVicker had wanted to call the children's putty "Kutol's Rainbow Modeling Compound," Zufall assured them that was a horrible name.

Zufall was given no credit in the patent nor any financial compensation for saving the company.

Advertisements promoting Play-Doh on influential children's television shows Captain Kangaroo, Ding Dong School, and Romper Room in 1957 furthered the product's sales. In 1958, Play-Doh's sales reached nearly $3 million.

Play-Doh was inducted in 1998 into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.

More than two billion cans of Play-Doh were sold between 1955 and 2005.

In 2005, Play-Doh was being sold in 75 countries around the world at 95 million cans a year.


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