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Pet Rock

a million-dollar fad

In 1975 some friends were enjoying drinks in a San Francisco, California, bar when the conversation, for reasons unknown, turned to the hassle and expense of keeping and training pets. The talk gave Gary Dahl, a 38-year-old unemployed advertising executive, an idea. Dahl got some rocks and gave them away as maintenance-free pets. His friends loved them, and Dahl wondered if other people might love them as well.

Drawing on his advertising experience, Dahl wrote a "care and training" manual, came up with a cardboard package shaped like a pet carrier (complete with a bed of excelsior), and bought three tons of smooth rocks from a beach in Mexico.

Pet Rock care manual

pet rock and carrier

Introduced to the general public about a month before Christmas, the Pet Rock was an instant sensation. “Tonight Show” appearances, newspaper clippings and even a song -- “I’m in Love With My Pet Rock,” by Al Bolt -- followed, and by the time the fad ended -- less than a year after after it began -- about 1.5 million Pet Rocks had been sold (at $3.95 each) and Dahl had become a millionaire.

Gary Dahl

Dahl used the proceeds from Pet Rock sales to open a saloon, and he also ran a sailboat brokerage, before returning to advertising. He died in 2015.

Jeff Rovin I Wish I'd Thought of That! Boca Raton, Florida: Globe Communications Corp., 1995

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The Robinson Library >> Miscellaneous Industries

This page was last updated on July 05, 2018.