When it comes to fads, the 70’s has some of the most iconic in pop culture history, with Pet Rocks being one of the decade’s most notable.
The brainchild of advertising executive Gary Dahl, Dahl noted the complaints and woes of his real pet owner friends in 1975, which inspired him to joke about a maintenance free, easy to discipline, and easy to have around pet: a pet rock.
The idea lingered on, and in time, Dahl eventually came up with an actual pet rock which came with its own pet-owner’s manual and carrying case, just like a real pet. It was primed as a “gag item”, a novelty piece that had enough wit and humor for those who didn’t take life all too seriously.
By 1976, pet rocks were no longer around, with many pet specialty stores without the latest “breed” or incarnation of pet rocks.
The Pet Rock’s manual became the subject of a lot of interest, with instructions over how to train one’s pet rock to sit, stand, stay, and roll over. The manual even instructed how to efficiently train the Pet Rock to “attack”, with the owner’s assistance involved in the process.
Today, the original Pet Rock generation can be found in different venues, from garage sales to online shopping sites like eBay. A number of manufacturers have also embarked on launching their own new pet rock line, inspired by Dahl’s first generation of Pet Rocks.
Officially, the Mego Corporation bought the rights of the Pet Rock brand in 2009, with i-Star Entertainment making new pet rocks available today. However, it’s the first generation of Pet Rocks which stand as prized collectors’ items, indicative of the history paved by the 1970’s.
The original Pet Rock fad is said to have lasted for most of a year’s time (around 6 months), and reportedly sold 1.5 million “pets” within that period.
Not too shabby, don’t you think?