Though hoops go back to fifth century Greece as toys and are used in Native American dance, it was Spud Melin’s trip to Australia, where he’d seen exercise hoops, that launched the modern hula hoop craze.

A hula hoop contingent in the 2007 Summer Sols...

A hula hoop contingent in the 2007 Summer Solstice Parade, Fremont Fair, Seattle, Washington marched the route while “hula hooping”; they deliberately had an oversupply of hula hoops, and continually urged people in the viewing crowd to join them. Many did, at least briefly, including this child. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Melin gave some hoops to children to see what they’d do with them.

Their play reminded him of the Hawaiian hula .

He and his Wham-O Company partner, Richard Knerr, started manufacturing plastic hula hoops for children in July, 1958.

They sold 25 million in less than four months, 100 million in the first two years.

On May 13, 1959, Melin applied for a patent on his version of a hoop toy.

A patent was awarded on March 5, 1963.

I ran into hula hoops again, or hooping, as it is now called, in Boston a few years ago when I saw a young woman using hula hoops for a beautiful dance at a sidewalk festival.

Since then, it has gotten popular as an exercise device.

There are different sizes for adults and children.

Adult hoops may be weighted, so they’ll spin slower, and have sticky grips on the ring.

I distinctly remember being a smug 12-year-old, when I could have kept a hula-hoop going, seemingly forever.

Most adults who tried rarely made it past the first or second spin and felt foolish for trying.

When grandchildren started getting old enough, I got out my old hula hoop.

Yes, I could still do it, but I had to concentrate.

My granddaughter now has her own, kid-sized hula hoop that hangs by her front door.

Records set with hula hoops:

  • Longest time hooping: 74 hours, 15 minutes
  • Most hoops at once: 132
  • Hooping while running: 10 kilometers
  • Most hoop dancers: 4,483
  • Largest hoop: 45.55 feet
  • Hooping with a 53-pound tire: 71 seconds

If you want to see some videos of hula hooping today, check these out:

When was the last time you played with a hula hoop?

Do you have one now?

Have you ever hooped with your grandchildren?

To you and keeping your inner child alive with your grandchildren.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers



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