Topping the Wish List - 1950

It had no practical use when chemists at General Electric invented it in 1944 and so it was tossed aside for about five years until it fell into the hands of Peter Hodgson, a 36-year old advertising copywriter from New Haven Connecticut.

Hodgson took one look at them bouncing putty and thought it would make a great novelty item. A few weeks later he purchased 150 dollars worth of the substance and registered it by the name we know it as today, Silly Putty was born.

 Early Silly Putty Package

One ounce of the magical substance sold in little plastic eggs could bounce like a ball when rolled up stretch out like taffy and would lay down flat like a pancake if you left it long enough.

When his silly putty caught the eye of a writer of The New Yorker magazine the publicity triggered an explosion in sales. By Christmas, Hodgson had sold more than 1 million units.

Silly Putty

Hodgson also discovered that the putty when pressed against a newspaper would pick up a copy of a print on its surface. Children across the country began pressing Silly Putty against pictures from the comic section and stretching it out to make the images distorted and even more comical.

Fortunately for Peter Hodges items at the top of wish list don't have to be practical. Now an estimated five million dollars worth of this worthless putty is sold every year.