Trivia

Hard

Iconic Children’s Toy Play-Doh Got Its Start As?

Automotive Body Filler
Plumber's Putty
Stabilizing Museum Artifacts
Wallpaper Cleaner
A retro-styled can of Play-Doh.
Play-Doh/Hasbro

Answer: Wallpaper Cleaner

Long before Play-Doh began its run as a decades-spanning iconic children’s toy, it had a far, far more mundane (and less colorful start) as a cleaning supply. What would go on to become Play-Doh was originally a cleaning compound commissioned by the Kroger Grocery chain back in the 1930s.

At the time, the majority of homes were heated by coal and that coal left a dingy coating on wallpaper. Cleaning wallpaper was a tricky affair since you didn’t want to wet it, and you didn’t want to disturb the surface with brushing or other aggressive techniques that could damage it. Enter Play-Doh’s forerunner, a simple clay-like compound made of flour, water, salt, borax, and mineral oil. You could take the clay and smoosh it against the wallpaper, peel it away, and it would lift all the coal soot away without harming the wallpaper. It was cheap, effective, and sold quite well.

After World War II, however, the market for soot-removal dried up as the country shifted to using natural gas for home heating, and the problem of sooty walls vanished along with the coal furnaces. Combine that with the introduction of vinyl-based wallpapers that could be easily cleaned with a damp rag and suddenly there was very little need for specialized wallpaper-cleaning clay.

The company was, in fact, destined for bankruptcy until the nephew of the inventor discovered that local nursery schools used the clay to make Christmas ornaments and other projects. In that serendipitous moment, it all came together: the clay was non-toxic, slow to dry, easy to mold, and a perfect fit for children. After a few adjustments to the formula (primarily to lower the salt content in order to keep the colors vibrant after it dried), an aggressive marketing campaign in the 1950s, and a push to international markets in the 1960s, Play-Doh became one of the world’s most recognizable children’s toys this side of LEGO blocks.

Trivia

Hard

Which Famous Silver Screen Duo Had An Adversarial Off-Screen Relationship?

Trivia

Hard

Sci-Fi Classic Dune Was Published By A Publisher Specializing In?

Trivia

Hard

What Mobile Phone Service Preceded Modern Cell Phones?

Trivia

Very Hard

Which Language’s Alphabet Has The Least Number Of Letters?

Trivia

Hard

Which Band Derives Its Name From A Unit Of Measurement?

Trivia

Easy

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Commonly Affects Which Of These Groups?

Trivia

Hard

Which Creature Cannot Survive In A Micro Gravity Environment?

Trivia

Hard

The First U.S. President To Publish A Work Of Fiction Was?

Trivia

Easy

Which Of These Foodstuffs Was Originally Dyed Before Sale?

Trivia

Hard

Which Video Game Franchise Features Fan-Designed Bad Guys?