Gary Dahl, the inventor of the phenomenon known as the Pet Rock passed away at the age of 78. He helped popularize an idea and a trend that spread like wildfire.
Like the Hula Hoop, Gary Dahl's Pet Rock too caught on like crazy and had a generation going mad for a meaningless entity. All it consisted of was an ordinary roughly-polished pebble that could be found in any garden. You had the shopkeeper put it in a nestled space inside a box and you had to cough up $3.95.
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The fad started way back in the mid 70s and the rest as they say is history. Over a million customers frequented the shops and bought Pet Rocks and thus became proud owners of what appeared to be a stone nside a box.
Newsweek termed it a ridicuously extreme marketing scheme. The man behind the mission, Gary Dahl was lionized as a hero and labeled as a charlatan in equal measures. He passed away recently. And that too at the ripe age of 78.
According to NYTimes, Gary Dahl used to be a copywriter who came up with the funky idea of a pet that didn’t need any food or pooper-scoopers. For the sybaritic 70s, this seemed to be a dream come true. So they settled for what appeared absurd to the extreme… even Dadaistic come to think of it.
This later on inspired several spinoffs such as a Stone Soup by P.T. Barnum. It made Dahl a millionaire virtually in the span of 24 hours. And though the fad has long since gone the way of the trash can, it is now a fixed part of the vocabulary of American heritage.
The whole idea began in Dahl’s brain when he was a dropout and failed copywriter who was having a drink in a pub. Contemplating his failure status, he took a little too much alcohol and declared before the crowd in the pub that he would have a Pet Rock that neither pooped nor was such a high maintenance thing as dogs and cats were.
Gary Dahl and a few others who tagged along bought many smooth beach pebbles from a Mexican factory at dirtcheap prices and then came the packaging part. They put these pebbles in beautiful cardbox boxes with holes and ventilation.
The rocks were nestled in a soft fuzzy substance. And Dahl even provided a manual for the upkeep and training of the Pet Rock. Soon Mr. Dahl was a rich man and Pet Rocks were the talk of the town.
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And although he will be always known with reference to his bizarre invention, he later on partially regretted his decision since it had attracted a bunch of lunatics and psychos towards his personality. They wanted to ask Gary Dahl what next fad they should invent and he was at a loss for words.