The Frisbee has a rather humble beginning that started on a college campus in New England. It was there that a group of bored, hungry college students learned that they could turn the empty pie plates of their favorite sweets into flying discs for playing catch. The pies were produced by the Frisbie Baking Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut and were packaged in lightweight tins that had a small lip and were surprisingly aerodynamic.
The Frisbee name was first put on a flying disc in 1957 when the founder of Wham-O noticed the popular toy on college campuses and decided to get in on a new market. Today, nearly every flying disc is casually referred to as a Frisbee.
The activity of taking to the campus lawns and passing back and forth Frisbie pans became so common that eventually 2 business partners took note and started producing similar discs in plastic. The new plastic discs had better accuracy and lasted longer than the pie tins from the baking company. The first plastic discs were released in 1948, around the same time as the public started becoming preoccupied with UFOs. The flying discs had a similar shape to a UFO which caused them to skyrocket in popularity.
The original discs were called Pluto Platters in an effort to cash in on the popularity of UFOs. This design became the basis of all future Frisbees. In 1955, the Pluto Platter design was sold to Wham-O who later began producing them under the name of Frisbee. The name change was a marketing ploy to cash in on the unusual history of the toy.
Sales of Frisbees skyrocketed before eventually tapering off when electronic toys started to dominate the market. As kids became more sedentary, sales of outdoor toys slowed. A revival in the early 2000s and renewed interest in vintage games like Frisbee golf and ultimate Frisbee brought the Frisbee back to life. Today, the Frisbee design is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers. Before being bought by Mattel, Wham-O sold over 100 million of the discs to eager children throughout the country.
As medical science points to the growing list of hazards brought on by excessive television watching in children, resurgence in popularity of outdoor, non-battery operated toys is occurring. Parents are introducing their children to toys like the Frisbee that promote physical activity, fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Frisbee games are still popular on college campuses and even schools are cashing in on the fun, inexpensive toys by adding them to playground caches.
The simple, inexpensive Frisbee is once again becoming a childhood staple. Parents, kids, college students, aunt, uncles and even grandparents can all enjoy the simple design and humble story of one of America’s greatest toys.