Family Health


14 Toys Boomers Loved That Would Confuse Today’s Kids

Hula Hoops

14 Toys Boomers Loved That Would Confuse Today’s Kids

Before there were video games and iPads and touchscreens and VR headsets, there was a simpler time that was wildly less … electronic. Indeed, when the Boomer generation (born between 1946-1964) was growing up, they had a selection of simple toys that encouraged creativity and stretched the imagination. Hours were spent in pure play — a notion that often is lost on today’s generation. Take a walk back in time and explore these 14 classic toys that were wildly popular with Boomer kids.


  • Invented in 1943 by Richard and Betty James
  • Released in 1945
  • Known for its ability to walk down stairs

Hula Hoop

Hula Hoops
  • Marketed by Wham-O in 1958
  • Patented in 1963
  • Inspired by a wooden hoop children played with in Australia

Barbie Dolls

  • Invented by Ruth Handler
  • Released in 1959 by Mattel
  • Mattel was founded by Handler and her husband, Elliot

Mr. Potato Head

  • Invented in 1949 by George Lerner
  • Distributed in 1952 by Hasbro
  • Claim to fame: the first toy ever advertised on TV

TONKA Trucks

  • Invented in 1947 by Mound Metalcraft Company in Mound, Minnesota
  • Mound is located near Lake Minnetonka, hence the name “Tonka”
  • TONKA uses 119,000 pounds of yellow paint each year


  • Started as wallpaper cleaner
  • Was first used as modeling clay in 1955
  • Became known as Play-Doh in 1956

GI Joe

  • Introduced in 1964
  • Called an “action soldier” or “action figure” instead of a doll
  • Originally introduced as an Army soldier but a Navy sailor, Air Force pilot, Marine and NASA astronaut were later added


  • Originally called Sawyer’s View-Master
  • Introduced at the World’s Fair in 1939-40
  • First intended to be an adult education tool

Easy-Bake Oven

  • Invented by Ronald Howes and introduced in 1963 by Kenner
  • Heat source was two 100-watt incandescent bulbs
  • Could bake actual edible food

Etch A Sketch

  • Introduced at the 1959 International Toy Fair
  • First called L’ecran Magique, or The Magic Screen
  • Aluminum powder and tiny beads are held to the screen via static charges

Chatty Cathy

  • Released in 1960
  • Pull-string on her back made Cathy “talk”
  • Started with 11 phrases, including “I love you”
  • Second most popular doll in the 1960s after Barbie

Hot Wheels

  • Debuted in 1968 at the International Toy Fair
  • Inspired by California hot rods
  • Original batch included 16 cars, called “The Sweet 16”


  • Invented in 1948 by William H. Schaper of Minnesota
  • Was an educational game designed for ages 3-11
  • Still a popular game for families
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