From 60 years ago: The hula hoop comes to Canada

Sixty years ago, the hula hoop was a new thing in Canada and CBC Radio had to explain what a hula hoop was to listeners.
Sixty years ago, the hula hoop was a big thing on both sides of the border. In this file photo, kids and teens are seen using hula hoops in Los Angeles on August 20, 1958. (Associated Press)
The hula hoop, you say? 
CBC News was reporting on hula hoops on both radio and TV in 1958. (Newsmagazine/CBC Archives)

Sixty years ago, it was a trendy thing in Canada and CBC Radio was explaining the toy — and the accompanying fad — to listeners.

"They are rings made of plastic, about 36 to 37 inches in diameter, that the kids swing about themselves and accomplish some extraordinary feats," said Bill McNeil on CBC Radio's Assignment at the end of September 1958.

Assignment interviewed a manufacturer who told the program that Wham-O, the U.S. toy company, had brought the hula hoop to the North American market, after getting inspiration from a product in Australia.

One of the biggest and most profitable fads of all time takes Canada by storm. 4:53

'Wiggling within their hoops'

The hula hoop craze was also covered by CBC's Newsmagazine the following month, when viewers saw film of kids taking part in a so-called Hula-Thon in Hamilton.

Children are seen taking part in a hula hoop contest in Hamilton in 1958. (Newsmagazine/CBC Archives)

"The present craze began last spring and since has swept North America, bringing a $30-million profit to the manufacturers of the toys," Newsmagazine reported to viewers.

"Now 16 million youngsters are wiggling within their hoops like hysterical hula dancers."

The program also claimed some parents were finding that hula hoops were "a good form of calisthenics," though these older practitioners would likely be found doing this "behind closed doors."