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a million-dollar fad
In 1975 some friends were enjoying drinks in a San Francisco, California, bar when the conversation, for reasons unknown, turned to the hassle and expense of keeping and training pets. The talk gave Gary Dahl, a 38-year-old unemployed advertising executive, an idea. Dahl got some rocks and gave them away as maintenance-free pets. His friends loved them, and Dahl wondered if other people might love them as well.
Drawing on his advertising experience, Dahl wrote a "care and training" manual, came up with a cardboard package shaped like a pet carrier (complete with a bed of excelsior), and bought three tons of smooth rocks from a beach in Mexico.
Introduced to the general public about a month before Christmas, the Pet Rock was an instant sensation. Tonight Show appearances, newspaper clippings and even a song -- Im in Love With My Pet Rock, by Al Bolt -- followed, and by the time the fad ended -- less than a year after after it began -- about 1.5 million Pet Rocks had been sold (at $3.95 each) and Dahl had become a millionaire.
Dahl used the proceeds from Pet Rock sales to open a saloon, and he also ran a sailboat brokerage, before returning to advertising. He died in 2015.
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This page was last updated on June 18, 2017.