Good Old Days Newsletter

In the Good Old Days Antiques Corner This Week in History
In the Good Old Days

Trivia Question

What famous chocolate candy was patented in 1941?

Hooping It Up

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With every newsletter we send to your inbox we include a section titled "This Week in History," which highlights a few interesting events that happened in the Good Old Days. When I researched the week of March 4, I discovered many historical and significant happenings. But the one that made me smile was this one: On March 5, 1963, the Hula Hoop, a hip-swinging toy that took the nation by storm in 1958 when it was first marketed, was patented by the Wham-O company.

Two buddies, Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr, owned Wham-O and had already successfully developed the flying plastic disc known as the Frisbee just a year earlier. After viewing some Australian children twirling a wooden hoop around their waists in a gym class, the lightbulbs went off over their heads and the idea of a plastic Hula Hoop was born.

I was born shortly after the Hula Hoop was patented, but I fondly remember playing with one. I was not coordinated enough to keep that hoop twirling around me for any appreciable length of time, so I put my Hula Hoop to other creative uses. My friend Nadine and I placed the hoop between us and skated down the sidewalk together, propelling each other forward and backward at speeds our mothers would not have approved of. My brothers and I would position several Hula Hoops in the outfield of our backyard baseball diamond and have contests with the neighbor kids to see who could land a pop fly inside a hoop. And yes, when we played cops and robbers, the bad guys were always seated together, back-to-back, with a Hula Hoop encircling them so there was no chance of escape. When it got down to it, our hoops had endless non-Hula-Hooping possibilities.

I purchased Hula Hoops for my kids when they were young, but once they, too, failed at the fundamental Hula-Hooping technique, they lost interest. They just couldn't envision all the other potential uses a giant plastic hoop truly has.

I'll bet the Hula Hoop inventors didn't foresee it, either.

'Til next time,

Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine

PS. Did you have a Hula Hoop when you were young? Were you good at Hula-Hooping? Did you use your Hula Hoop in other fun ways? Let us know! Send a brief response to me at and it could appear in a future newsletter or in Good Old Days magazine! Here are several email responses from the Jan. 21, 2015, newsletter question: What are your favorite home remedies to help you feel better? Did your parents or grandparents use something quirky or unusual that you still use today?

Sheila S. shared: "My mother was from England, so I don't have to tell you that she had some strange home remedies. When I would get a cold, I would always end up with the croup. She would put the teapot on the stove and boil water. She would then pour it into a bowl. She would go to the cupboard and get out her grandmother's remedy, this strange orange liquid called Friar's Balsam. I was summoned to the bowl of water, and she would pour the Friar's Balsam in -- just a teaspoon. The towel would cover my head and the bowl of this magical potion. I would then breathe in this concoction for about 10 minutes. Sure enough, I would start coughing up all the nasty stuff, and the croup would be gone. It wasn't until I got older and looked up Friar's Balsam that I discovered it was tincture of benzoin. They put that on skin before they wrap football players' legs with tape! Who knows what effects it may have had on my lungs, but I am 68 years old and still healthy."
Betty T. responded: "My mother considered Vicks salve as a cure-all for every cold. Rubbed on chest and nose, it would cure anything. An onion or garlic clove baked in the oven was the next-best cure-all. The juice was cooled and put in an aching ear."

Mary Beth Weisenburger has been with Annie's since April 2011. She has 25 years of experience in the marketing, advertising and publishing fields. In addition to her job as editor of Good Old Days, she has been writing a family humor column for over a decade. She and her husband, two college-age kids, two dogs and various other critters live on five acres in the country, where she enjoys reading on the back porch, refinishing furniture, feeding the birds and digging in the dirt of her perennial gardens.

Fill out the easy feedback form and let me know your thoughts, questions and ideas.

Trivia Answer

M&M's. On March 3, 1941, Forrest Mars patented a process to create hard-shelled chocolate candies, calling them M&Ms. The candies' hard shells enable them to withstand heat, a feature that won them popularity among U.S. servicemen and led to the slogan, "The milk chocolate that melts in your mouth -- not in your hands."

From Live It Again 1941.

Find out more about the fashion, events and popular culture of America in the Live It Again book series at, featuring the best of The Saturday Evening Post!

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