Happy 60th anniversary to the Frisbee! In 1961, the Post’s “People on the Way Up” section featured the co-founders Wham-O, the company that brought us not only the Frisbee, but also the Hula Hoop, the Slip ‘N Slide, and Silly String.
People on the Way Up
Originally published in the Saturday Evening Post on December 23, 1961
Knerr and Melin: Funmakers. Two of Santa’s happiest helpers are toymakers Richard (Rich) Knerr (right), 36, and Arthur (Spud) Melin, 36. Producers of the fabulous Hula Hoop, gadgeteers Knerr and Melin formed their Wham-O Manufacturing Company in 1947 while students at the University of Southern California. Their first factory was a Pasadena garage, their first product a slingshot, made with a band saw bought on credit. Today they turn out more than thirty toy and sporting-goods items, ranging from the 59-cent Frisbee Flying Saucer in Spud’s hand to the $130 sailboat at left, and sell to 25,000 stores. Hottest number in their line: Limbo, a movable bar to wiggle under, lower and lower, to the music of a recorded tune called Kookie Limbo. Each partner has a specialty. Knerr is salesman and promoter, Melin the research-and-development expert. Both have playrooms where their youngsters — seven in all — can test-play their dads’ brainchildren. The Wham-O owners now are plotting an invasion of the babyware business, also horsing around with pet supplies. “How can we run out of hot ideas,” Rich asks, “when inventors submit more than a hundred to us each week ?” “We can’t,” Spud assures him.