Trivia

Hard

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

Automotive Body Filler
Stabilizing Museum Artifacts
Plumber's Putty
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

Easy

In The Mid-1960s, There Was A Brief But Intense Fashion Fad Focused On Wearing?

Trivia

Hard

The First NASA Astronaut To Enter Space A Second Time Was?

Trivia

Easy

Mycotoxins Are Toxins Produced By?

Trivia

Very Hard

The Highest Grossing World War II Film Of All Time Is?

Trivia

Easy

What Invention Created A Mass Movement Towards Completely Indoor Pet Cats?

Trivia

Hard

NASA Carefully Timed Space Shuttle Flights To Avoid What?

Trivia

Hard

Albertville, France Generates Electricity With Gas Produced By What Unusual Source?

Trivia

Easy

“Peace Lines” Are An Urban Architectural Feature Found Throughout?

Trivia

Easy

Which Computer Technology Derives Its Name From Greek Mythology?

Trivia

Hard

In Order To Prove How The Illness Was Caused, A Scientist Purposely Gave Himself?