If you Hula Hooped in 1958, the Wham-O Manufacturing Co. hopes you'll do it again in 1982.
The California manufacturer is trying hard to restart the Hula Hoop phenomenon. Hooping probably was the world's biggest, if most short-lived, fad back in the age of Eisenhower and Elvis Presley. It was born in early 1958 and was dead before Christmas. But not before about 100 million Hula Hoops were sold.
Wham-O, which also makes the Frisbee, brought back the hoop in 1967 and it has been a steady, although normally low-key, seller ever since. This year Wham-O launched a series of promotions designed to rekindle the average American's urge to gyrate with a 30-inch diameter plastic ring coursing around his or her middle, legs, arms or even neck.
On Wednesday, Californian Chico Johnson set a new world's record for hooping, keeping 75 of them aloft at once. The previous record-holder, Peter Hernandez, earned his title in 1979 by keeping 63 of them in simultaneous flutter.
The new world's record was set during a week of Hula-Hoopery at Knott's Berry Farm near Los Angeles. To tickle interest in the plastic hoops, Wham-0 persuaded the Los Angeles Dodgers to hoop in spring training. There was hooping at Daytona during spring break. And Miss USA hooped to the delight of attendees at New York's Toy Fair last February.
Wham-O spokesman Goldy Norton said the company does not envision a repetition of 1958. The hoops overnight became a worldwide craze, and even were banned in a few countries whose officials took offense at the pelvic gyrations needed to keep the hoop aloft.
Despite 25 years of inflation, the Hula Hoop remains a bargain. Norton said the hoops generally cost between $2.50 and $3 each today, compared with $1.50 to $2 in 1958.
But Wham-O, encouraged by a deluge of media inquiries that followed an Advertising Age story on the product last fall, decided that 1982 was ripe for renewed hoopla.