Objects made of Play-Doh.
The non-toxic, non-staining, reusable modeling compound that came to be known as Play-Doh was originally a pliable, putty-like wallpaper cleaner concocted by Noah McVicker for Kutol Products, a family-owned Cincinnati-based soap company. Following World War II, McVicker’s nephew, Joseph McVicker, joined Kutol and discovered the wallpaper cleaner was being used by nursery school children to make Christmas ornaments.
Joe McVicker took Play-Doh to an educational convention for manufacturers of school supplies, and Woodward & Lothrop, a department store in Washington, DC began selling the compound. In 1956, the McVickers formed the Rainbow Crafts Company to make and sell Play-Doh. Also in 1956, a three-pack of 7-ounce cans was added to the product line, and, after in-store demonstrations, Macy’s of New York and Marshall Field’s of Chicago opened retail accounts. In 1957, chemist Dr. Tien Liu reduced Play Doh’s salt content (thus allowing models to dry without losing their color), and Play-Doh ads were telecast on Captain Kangaroo, Ding Dong School, and Romper Room. In 1958, Play-Doh’s sales reached nearly $3 million.
In 1964, Play-Doh was exported to England, France, and Italy, and, in the 1980s, its cardboard can (with a rust-prone metal bottom) was scuttled for a more cost effective plastic container. By 1965, Rainbow Crafts was issued a patent for Play-Doh. Also in 1965, General Mills purchased Rainbow Crafts and all rights to Play-Doh for $3 million, placing the compound with its Kenner Products subsidiary. In 1971, Rainbow Crafts and Kenner Products merged, and, in 1987, the Tonka Corporation bought the two. In 1991, Hasbro became Play-Doh’s owner, and continues to manufacture the product today through its Playskool division. In 1996, gold and silver were added to Play-Doh’s palette to celebrate its 40th anniversary.