17 Bizarre, Nostalgic Facts About Pet Rocks
Inventor Gary Dahl recently passed away at 78. While his name is not very commonly known, his greatest creation is. Dahl invented the Pet Rock in 1975, which went on to become a cultural icon for many reasons.
Here, then, is the wild story of how a man made a million dollars with rocks.
1. Just a Rock
Despite later incarnations, the original and most popular Pet Rock was just that, a rock. No eyes or a face painted on it.
Just a rock. And it was a sensation that epitomized the 1970s.
3. Not a Shocker
Inventor Gary Dahl said he came up with the idea while drinking in a bar and listening to other patrons complain about taking care of their pets. Dahl said he had no such problems with his pet.
"Because I have a pet rock."
It grew from there.
4. Cheap Starts
After some encouragement from friends, Dahl went to a hardware store and bought a lot of smooth Mexican beach stones for about a penny each.
6. Good Training
Arguably, the biggest selling point was the training manual that came with each rock. Dahl was an advertising copyrighter and knew how to craft a fun, pun-filled set of instructions. Chapters included how to teach your rock to "Sit," "Stay" and "Attack."
7. 1975 Dollars
Dahl sold the Pet Rock for $3.95 each.
Adjusted for today's prices that's a staggering $17.95 per rock!
9. Late Night Boost
The Pet Rock took off when it was featured on the Tonight Show just before the Christmas shopping season of 1975.
10. A Million Rocks
It seems like an urban legend these days, but it was actually true. Dahl sold over 1.5 million Pet Rocks and became a millionaire in the process.
12. And Rock College
Dahl also introduced a line of humorous degrees for your Pet Rock, including a $3 Bachelors and a $10 PhD.
13. His Biggest Flop
His biggest blunder, however, was the humorous but failed Sand Breeding Kit, which allowed owners to essentially care for a miniature desert.
15. The Pet Rock Today
If it's known for anything today, the Pet Rock is a shorthand term for a useless item or a fad.
16. A Fitting Book
In 2001, Dahl resurfaced as part of another marketing savvy trend, the For Dummies series of books. Dahl penned Advertising for Dummies, which might just be his longest lasting achievement, as it is still in print today.
17. Unhappy Ending
Dahl later claimed his life would have been "simpler" had he not invented the Pet Rock. He was sued by his original investors and claimed to have been continually hounded by inventors looking for "the next big thing".
Regardless, it's impossible to think of the 1970s without Gary Dahl.
Rest in peace.