A hula hoop is a toy hoop that is twirled around the waist, limbs or neck. The modern hula hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr, but children and adults around the world have played with hoops, twirling, rolling and throwing them throughout history. Hula hoops for children generally measure approximately 71 centimetres (28 in) in diameter, and those for adults around 1.02 metres (40 in). Traditional materials for hoops include willow, rattan (a flexible and strong vine), grapevines and stiff grasses. Today, they are usually made of plastic tubing
Native American Hoop Dance is a form of storytelling dance incorporating anywhere from one to thirty hoops as props. These props are used to create both static and dynamic shapes, which represent various animals, symbols, and storytelling elements. The dance is generally performed by a solo dancer with multiple hoops. Before it was known and recognized as the common colorful plastic toy (sometimes with water inside the actual hoop), the traditional "hula hoop" used to be made of dried up willow, rattan, grapevines, or stiff grasses. Even though they have existed for thousands of years, they are often misunderstood as having been invented in the 1950s. According to author Charles Panati, there was a "craze" of using wooden and metal hoops in 14th-century England. He reports that doctors treated patients suffering from pain and dislocated backs due to hooping - and heart failure was even attributed to it. Panati also says that the name "hula" came from the Hawaiian dance in the 18th century, due to the similar hip movements The hula hoop gained international popularity in the late 1950s, when a plastic version was successfully marketed by California's Wham-O toy company. In 1957, Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin, starting with the idea of Australian bamboo "exercise hoops", manufactured 1.06-metre (42 in) hoops with Marlex plastic. With giveaways and national marketing and retailing, a fad was started in July, 1958; twenty-five million plastic hoops were sold in less than four months, and in two years, sales reached more than 100 million units. Carlon Products Corporation was one of the first manufacturers of the hula hoop. During the 1950s, when the hula hoop craze swept the country, Carlon was producing more than 50,000 hula hoops per day. The hoop was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 1999. The hula hoop craze swept the world, dying out again in the 1980s, but not in China and Russia, where hula hooping and hoop manipulation were adopted by traditional circuses and rhythmic gymnasts.