The most popular fads from decades past
Find out what was popular when your parents were kids, or take a nostalgic trip down memory lane from your own childhood:


3D Movies
  • Movie studio executives worried that the new medium, television, would steal away their audiences. What was required was a hook to bring people back into the movie theatre. As the strippers sang in "Gypsy," you gotta have a gimmick. Even though 3-D movies had been around as far back as 1922 and had lost favor, it was decided to try again. Arch Oboler's "Bwana Devil" started the 3-D craze of the 1950's. It premiered on Nov. 26, 1952 and starred Robert Stack, Barbara Britton and Nigel Bruce. People were issued glasses, which facilitated the 3-D effect. Previously, 3-D used the anaglyphic process and those glasses were the red and green ones. This distorted the whole film by discoloration. Enter Polaroid and a newer system called Natural Vision. Polaroid glasses were nearly clear and so did not detract from the viewing experience. At first industry experts predicted that 3-D would do for movies what the "talkies" had done. Some surprising titles were filmed in 3-D, such as Hondo, Kiss Me Kate and Dial M for Murder. But often their 2-D versions outsold the 3-D, and the industry got the big hint.

Ant Farm
  • Real ants were put in a glass framed case with dirt and paths for the ants to follow. It was fun to watch as your insects interacted on the farm.

Blackjack Chewing Gum
  • Black licorice flavored gum.

Bubble Gum Cigars
  • Gum shaped to look like cigars (some even had a pink tip, to look like they were lit).

Car Hops
  • Burger joints and diners. Waitresses would roller-skate to your car and take your order.

Coonskin Caps
  • Hats made from racoon skin and fur. These hats became an iconic image of such 50's frontiersman as Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone.

DA Haircut
  • In the 1950's the DA (Ducks Ass), was the haircut of choice for the "cool" guys. Formed by combing the hair back on the sides of the head and holding it there with a dab of grease (hence the term "greaser"). Became popular by many rock and roll idols, making parents frown upon them and the effect it had upon their children. So legions of rebels without a cause delighted in slicking their hair back with a little brylcream and a plastic comb.

Frisbee
  • Everyone loved throwing the frisbee around. Childrens first reaction to seeing the high flying toy was, 'Wow! What's that?'. Even today people still throw frisbees around at parks, beaches, bbq's etc. Even dogs love chasing frisbees...but nothing compares to how people enjoyed them in the 1950's

Hula Hoop
  • One of the biggest fads of all time is the hula-hoop, invented in 1957, by an Australian. The name "hula hoop" came from the Hawaiian dance its users seemed to imitate. The invention was licensed to Wham-O, who sold 25 million hula-hoops in two months. Almost 100 million international orders followed. They were manufacturing 20,000 hoops a day at the peak of popularity. Not all nations thought this was such a spiffy idea. Japan banned the hoops thinking they might promote improprieties. The Soviet Union said the hula-hoop was an example of the "emptiness of American culture." Hula-hoops lost their popularity by the late 1970's but are still sold in major retails stores today.

Letter Sweaters
  • Girls would wear their boyfriends letterman jackets and sweaters, to show everyone they were dating a jock.

Panty Raids
  • Legend states the tradition started on the night of March 21st 1952 at the university of Michigan. Approximately 600 male students stormed a women's dormitory and confiscated underwear. Word got out and soon college guys across the country started participating in the escapades.

Pez
  • The popular candy which was created decades before the 50's, developed a new pocket size dispenser which became very popular in the 1950's. This new dispenser is now a Pez trademark and is what Pez is known for.

Poodle Skirts
  • This is the look most associated with the Fifties. And when you saw the "skirt" link, it's what you most expected to find. Yes, young women wore them. And had we known they would be immortalized as the symbol of an era, more of us would have saved ours. A poodle skirt is a wide swing skirt with a poodle appliqu├ęd or transferred onto the fabric. Poodles were not the only items used to adorn these skirts, they are just the best remembered.

Saddle Shoes
  • Nothing characterizes the Fifties quite as well as the saddle shoe. We all had them. We all wore them. And I'd be lying if I said I missed them. These things are heavy and rather stiff. And you couldn't just throw them in the washer when they got dirty! Give me my modern athletic shoe any day. Other different and derivative styles popular in the 50s included: two piece bathing suits; circle-skirts, bobby sox and ponytails; sack dresses; women wore pants outside the home, hooded dresses; short shorts; poodle hair styles for women; pink clothing for men and women; duck tail and apache hairstyles for men. Famous redheaded supermodel Suzy Parker displayed many of the decade's fashions.

Sideburns
  • James Dean and Elvis Presley among others, got loads of mileage out of those strips of facial hair that grew down about an inch and a half below the ears. Sideburns became the crucial detail to go along with the leather jackets and the DA haircuts. Eventually sideburns could be seen everywhere and realization of the grooming seemed to be more trouble then it was worth. The sideburns soon faded out.

Spud Guns
  • These were pistols that would shoot out potatoes. They were also known as potato cannons, tennis ball cannons, potato guns, or spudguns.

Telephone Booth Stuffing
  • One of the most well known fads of all time was Telephone Booth stuffing. It was started by several college students who would squeeze themselves into a telephone booth until no one else could fit inside. Although the fad was popularized by colleges from the west coast in the U.S., it was actually started in South Africa where twenty-five students packed themselves into a booth and claimed they had set a world record. Soon, many colleges around the world were trying to beat each other's records. The fad died out in 1959, but was reincarnated in the form of Volkswagen stuffing a few years later.

The Boomerang
  • In the late 1950's, an American atomic weapons researcher named Lorin Hawkes began designing boomerangs, eventually hooking up with Wham-O. Soon boomerangs were being thrown all over the world.