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The Story of Play-Doh

Updated on September 23, 2015

The story of Play-Doh dates all the way back to the early 1930's. Way back then Play-Doh was originally designed for use as a wallpaper cleaner. Back in those days the majority of homes were heated with coal fires. By the end of the Winter the amount of soot really started to cling to the interior walls of houses. So the idea of Play-Doh came about, where it was simply rolled over the walls and the soot clung to it without marking up the beautiful delicate wallpaper under it. There were no vinyl or washable wallpaper back in those days, and Play-Doh became a staple for Spring cleaning.

It wasn't until a point in the 1950s that Play-Doh entered into the toy world. In 1955 Play-Doh was introduced into to the class rooms as an alternative to the sometimes too messy modeling clay which could be difficult to deal with. Soon schools everywhere were using the non-toxic Play-Doh modeling compound. Play-Doh was also re-usable for future school projects, and all a teacher had to do was store it in an airtight container. Storing Play-Doh in an airtight container in a refrigerator is the best way for storage if possible.

Originally Play-Doh only came in the color white, but by 1957 the colors red, blue, and yellow were added to the line up. Since that time Play-Doh has been made softer and many more colors have been added to the line up. Some of the colors even glow in the dark, and contain glitter in them. There have been a number of additional products like the Play-Doh fun factory that have been developed around this colorful toy. In 1998 Play-Doh was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, and in 2003 it made it onto the Toy Associations - Century of Toy's List, with the top 100 toys of the last century. That's a pretty big deal!

Mr. Bill who was originally modeled out of Play-Doh was all over our TV screens on the Saturday Night Live show.
Mr. Bill who was originally modeled out of Play-Doh was all over our TV screens on the Saturday Night Live show.

Since 1956 over 950 million pounds of Play-Doh have been squished and squashed between little hands. That more than 2 billion cans of this fascinating toy. Play-Doh is very popular with children in the world today, and really lets their imagination run wild. It can be made into a little cat, dog or another pretend animal today, and reworked tomorrow into a cupcake for a tea party. Play-Doh is easy to work into different shapes, and there really isn't anything that you can't create from Play-Doh. Parents love Play-Doh as well, because it's easily cleans up, and you don't have to keep buying more since it's reusable.

Home-made Play-Doh

  1. 2 Cups of flour
  2. 3 tbsp cream of tarter
  3. 1/2 cup of salt
  4. 4 tbsp oil (Example vegetable oil)
  5. 1/2 cup of boiling water
  6. Food coloring (Any color you desire)
  7. First mix the dry ingredients. Then mix the oil, food coloring, and the boiling water in another separate container. Stir the liquid ingredients into the the dry ingredients, and wait until the Play-Doh is cool enough to knead. Knead until smooth, and if the Play-Doh is too dry then add more water a little bit at a time. If the the Play-Doh is too crumbly then knead in a small amount of oil. Now have some fun!
5 stars from 4 ratings of Play-Doh

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    • profile image

      Jill Moore 2 years ago

      Who would have thought it - wallpaper cleaner!? Just goes to show. I loved using play-dough when my littlies were ... well ... littler. Come play time, I'd be all "Let's do Play-Doh" and I swear sometimes they would, just to oblige their demented mother! Happy days - we still have a big ole box, including the glittery stuff! Great hub.

    • J - R - Fr13m9n profile image

      Jane Ramona Rynkiewicz Frieman 2 years ago from Morris County, New Jersey

      Play-Doh! What a fabulous toy that permits sensory and imaginative creativity! I used to be a child daycare worker and Play-Doh, even the homemade kind was fun for all.

    • Rachel Horon profile image

      Rachel Horon 2 years ago from Indiana

      I always thought Play-Doh started as a toy. Great hub!

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 2 years ago from America's Dairyland

      I remember modeling clay in school -- it was worse than finger paint for leaving a mess! And, I remember white Play Doh, which we painted with tempera paints.

      Now days, nothing brings back happy childhood memories like a whiff of Play Doh! Enjoyed your Hub!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 3 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I did learn something new today. I had no idea that Play-Doh had been around so long. I always loved playing with it when our son and grandson were small. We played with blocks of clay when I was little and that was fun, too.

    • zacharybrown profile image

      Zachary Brown 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Wall paper cleaner?! Who would have guessed. Thank you for such a fun and informative Hub on a toy I remember well. I must admit...this Hub made me want to break out some play-doh and see if it is still as much fun as an adult as it was all of those years ago.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I love this! Such great historical info. I played with it, too, so it brings back fond memories. Remember Silly Putty, too?

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for sharing TheHoleStory. I found the history very interesting. Great idea for cleaning wallpaper. Thanks for the recipe too. Well done.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I was enthused as I read this because I do not remember whether I used Pay-Doh. Even if I did, I was probably too young to recall the facts - except for the little talking guy on the commercial. LOL I voted this up and shared it.

      Kevin

    • sassypiehole profile image

      Lisa RenĂ© LeClair 3 years ago from the ATL

      I've always loved the smell of Play-Doh, I think I might have to dig underneath my daughter's bed and introduce her to Mr. Bill today... I forgot all about him! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. ;-)

    • Amanda108 profile image

      Amanda 3 years ago from Michigan, United States

      Fun article! I once knew someone who made homemade Play-Doh, but I've never tried it myself. I had no ideas about the origins of its use, aka the bit about using it to clean walls.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Great article! This brings back memories.

    • PaisleeGal profile image

      Pat Materna 3 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      Good Article! Voted up! PlayDoh has always been one of my favorite go to gifts for children. They love it and it's not hugely expensive. Anything that helps a child develop imagination I'm all for it!

      Thanks for this recipe. I'll give this a try a soon. I had another recipe I tried a few months ago with my grandson. It was fun to make with him and it played ok. But when he came back for his next visit it was all funky and sticky. I stored it in airtight containers. Not sure why it messed up but it was a little different recipe than the one you have shared.

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 3 years ago

      Glad you shared the recipe for Play Doh, and it's always great to learn something you didn't know. Up, interesting and useful.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Well, you learn something new every day! I didn't know the history of the stuff. Sharing this on Twitter tomorrow!