Today In History: The Frisbee Debuts

Today In History |

Today in 1957 was the first day anyone in the world was able to purchase a Frisbee. The Frisbee was invented by the Wham-O toy company, and there was nothing like it on the market.

The Frisbee was originated, accidentally, by William Frisbie, who lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Frisbie was the owner and proprietor of the Frisbie Pie Company, founded in 1871. It was a popular eatery for students from nearby colleges. The students, after they finished their pies, would often throw the empty pie tins at each other, yelling "Frisbie!"

The upside-down pie tin inspired an inventor named Walter Frederick Morrison to make a plastic version in 1948. He called it the "Flying Saucer," and was promoted as flying further and truer than a standard pie tin.

Morrison was partnered with Warren Franscioni. The two split, after which Morrison updated the design of the Flying Saucer and sold it to Wham-O in 1955 as the "Pluto Platter." At the time, the country was in the midst of UFO hysteria and Morrison thought the name might resonate.

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A year after the Pluto Platter hit the shelves, Wham-O changed the toy's name to the "Frisbee Disc," a reworking of Frisbie's name. The Frisbee was technically different than the Pluto Platter, modified by a Wham-O designer named Ed Headrick and later patented. The Frisbee's surface boasted rings that added stability to its flight.

By 1977, Wham-O had sold over a hundred million Frisbees. This was largely thanks to their successful efforts to make Frisbee its own, new sport. A sport that's still played competitively today.

Ultimate Frisbee, the most popular Frisbee game, was invented in 1967 by Maplewood, New Jersey high school students. It was a combination between football, soccer, basketball, and, of course, Frisbee.

Ed Headrick later invented Frisbee Golf in the seventies. In Frisbee Golf, weighted Frisbees are thrown into baskets. It is still a very popular alternative to standard golf.

Frisbees have also inspired a range of other, less common sports. There's even competitive dog Frisbee.

The original Frisbee is currently owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers, who bought the design in 1994. There are over sixty different manufacturers currently producing their own versions of the Frisbee. Most are made of plastic.

Frisbee is one of the most popular casual sports in the country. It's still a staple of picnics, outdoor birthday parties, high school and college sports, and beach leisure. If you haven't thrown one since you were a kid, it's still fun.

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Matt lives in Southern California. He is interested in politics, history, literature and the natural world.