Play-Doh

Inducted 1998

Play-Doh modeling compound started out as wallpaper cleaner. Joe McVicker learned from a teacher that kids usually found modeling clay too hard to manipulate. Discovering that the squishy cleaning product he manufactured could substitute, McVicker shipped some to the school. After teachers and kids raved, he offered to supply the product to all Cincinnati schools. More rave reviews followed. McVicker showcased the modeling clay at a national education convention in 1955, and word spread to Macy’s and Marshall Field’s. By 1956, the wallpaper cleaner had become Play-Doh. A year later, the manufacturer offered a softer Play-Doh in primary colors. Kids mixed these to make other colors, ending inevitably in brown. Captain Kangaroo endorsed Play-Doh, and so did Miss Frances from Ding Dong School. Play-Doh Pete appeared on product cans in 1960. The Fun Factory let kids extrude the material into interesting shapes, making mock hair, colorful spaghetti, and pretend ice cream that wouldn’t melt. In the 1980s, Play-Doh expanded its palette to eight colors. Later versions sparkled with glitter, glowed in the dark, or smelled like shaving cream. Recent estimates say that kids have played with 700 million pounds of Play-Doh.