The National Toy Hall of Fame just announced its 2015 inductees. Out of a field that included toy icons like the Wiffle Ball, Jenga. American Girl dolls, and Playmobil people, three toys were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame: Twister, the puppet, and the Super Soaker.
According to the National Toy Hall of Fame, puppets have been entertaining children (and adults) for thousands of years. Even Plato and Aristotle wrote about them in their books. By comparison, Super Soakers are babies. They came onto the scene in 1990 from an unlikely source—NASA's Galileo Mission to Jupiter. Dr. Lonnie Johnson was working on a new heat pump for the NASA mission by day and by night, tinkering with toys. He soon came up with a pump-action toy gun that could shoot water across the room. It was an instant hit, with 27 million Super Soakers sold in the first three years of production.
As for Twister, it was invented in 1964 by Reyn Guyer and was initially called Pretzel. When the Sears Roebuck catalogue decided the game was too racy to grace their pages, the Milton Bradley Co. cancelled production. Then Johnny Carson and actress Eva Gabor played the game on The Tonight Show (you thought Jimmy Fallon invented games in late night?) and Twister became a hit, selling more than three million copies in 1967.
These three toy legends will join over 50 of their plastic, metal, and wooden peers in The Strong, the National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. The Strong not only houses the National Toy Hall of Fame, but also the World Video Game Hall of Fame, as well as a collection of toys with over 72,000 artifacts from Star Wars to Barbie to Teddy bears and trains, making it one of the most comprehensive toy collections in the world.
Visitors to the museum can see and play with some of members of the National Toy Hall of Fame (or nominate their personal favorite). The Strong also has a butterfly garden, hosts birthday parties and story times, has a carousel and a train, and generally is a child’s daydream of a day trip.
If you’re heading to Rochester for a trip to The Strong, The Eastman Museum, The Susan B. Anthony House, or touring the Finger Lakes wine region, be sure to stop by Highland Park Diner, which has been serving up burgers, fries, and hot apple pie since 1948.