Mental Floss Magazine made a list of 37 fads that swept the nation at one point or another. I have to say it's a pretty funny list and it does a great job of reminding me of some of the stupid things we as a people have fallen in love with and dumped a short time later.
Highlights from the list:
Who knew infestation could be this much fun? Inspired by the events at an outdoor barbecue, "Uncle Milton" Levine modified a clear plastic tissue box into a prototype for the ant farm. And what a prototype it was! Between 1956 and 1966, he sold some 12 million of them (ants originally not included), thanks in part to creative product placement. Levine gave away fancy, mahogany ant farms to Dick Clark and other TV personalities who kept the trinkets on their on-screen desks and, thus, in the public eye.
The Bad News: It’s 1962. Your country is locked in a nuclear stalemate with the forces of communism, the CIA is recovering from a botched Cuban invasion, and President Kennedy is urging you to prepare for a possible nuclear attack.
The Good News: For as little as $100, you can buy your family a fallout shelter [wiki] stocked with enough food and supplies for two weeks of glorious, radiation-free living. Or you can keep up (and alive) with the Joneses and splurge on a $5,000 model complete with stylish interior design and claustrophobia-relieving faux windows. And don’t worry; if the Cold War ever starts to thaw, you can always convert that backyard eyesore into a playroom the kids will love!
The Even Better News (If You’re Swiss): In the 1960s, the ever-prepared Swiss government built an extensive network of fallout shelters with enough space and supplies to protect the nation’s entire population for two years. But, really, would you expect anything less from the makers of the world’s coolest Army knives?
Believe it or not, when Parker Brothers acquired the rights to the Ouija board [wiki] and released its first version back in 1967, the games’ early sales trounced the company’s traditional bestseller, Monopoly®. The moral of the story? When given a choice, people will choose the undead over capitalism.
Average Cost of a Rubik’s Cube Circa 1980: $6 to $10
Number of Cubes Sold in 1980: approximately 4.5 million
Number of Possible Color Combinations: 43.2 quintillion
Possibility That the Rubik’s Cube Could Actually Drive a Person Crazy: pretty darn. good. (Oh, and priceless.) When Hungarian architecture professor Ernö Rubik [wiki] introduced his "magic cube" to America in 1980, some people feared the popular puzzler would seriously drive fans mad. And legitimately so. Way back in 1874, a game called the "Fifteens Puzzle" was blamed for inducing insanity in roughly 1,500 people. And while Rubik’s Cube [wiki] addiction was apparently responsible for the break-up of at least one marriage, Man triumphed over Toy in this particular case. In fact, by 1983, the puzzler was considered so harmless, it got its own Sunday-morning cartoon, "Rubik, the Amazing Cube."
Proving that everybody’s a sucker for good double entendre, Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam made a mint off his so-ugly-they’re-cute troll dolls [wiki] by marketing them as "Dam Things." In fact, the creatures were the second-most popular doll of the 1960s, right behind Barbie.
You can read the whole list at Neatorama.