What Pivot-Obsessed Businesses Can Learn from Play-Doh

The weird story of a best-selling toy that started as wallpaper cleaner.

Play-Doh sculpture by the interns of artist Jeff Koons. Photo by Boss Tweed via Flickr

For all its simplicity, it’s hard to deny that Play-Doh is one of the most successful toys of all time. A colored modeling clay just a cut above what you can make out of household ingredients, its ability to inspire creative, open, and versatile play earned it a spot in the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998 and on the Toy Industry Association’s “Century of Toys” list in 2003. Over the nearly six decades it has been on the market, purveyors have sold over 2 billion cans (at least 700 million pounds) in about 75 countries; the U.S. alone boasts at least 6,000 stores that stock Play-Doh products. It’s even got its own (jokey) holiday—September 18 is National Play-Doh Day.

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