Video Of The Day: The Surpising History Of The Original Frisbee

Published January 23, 2016
Updated January 12, 2018

On January 23, 1957, the Wham-O toy company produced the first plastic Frisbees, initially marketed as “Pluto Platters” (see their first ever commercial above).

That said, the origins of what we now know as the Frisbee actually date back to 1871 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where William Frisbie opened his Frisbie Pie Company. The company grew popular among college students, who would fling their empty pie tins at each other, yelling “Frisbie!” as they released them.

The game soon inspired inventors Walter Frederick Morrison and Warren Franscioni to create a plastic model of the pie tins that would fly further and more accurately, which they called the “Flying Saucer.” But after splitting from Franscioni in 1955, Morrison improved their early model, changed the name to the “Pluto Platter”—which was a marketing tactic to cash in on the growing popularity of UFOs in the States—and sold it to Wham-O (also responsible for the Hula Hoop, Slip ‘N Slide, and Hacky Sack, among others).

In 1958, Wham-O changed the name of the disc to “Frisbee,” misspelling the name from the historic pie company, but keeping the same pronunciation. The first commercial was aired in television households across the country, helping brand the toy as a household product. Sales for the Frisbee soon soared. By 1977, Wham-O had sold over 100 million Frisbees.

Today, there are over 60 manufacturers that produce different versions of flying discs, but the official Frisbee is now owned by Mattel, who bought the toy from Wham-O in 1994.

Gabrielle Kwarteng
A born and bred New Yorker, Gabrielle Kwarteng is the Social Media Manager for PBH Network. She loves to take street portraits with her Nikon FA and DJ for anyone who'll listen.
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