Pet Rock creator dies, leaving a mournful nation wondering how such a dumb gimmick caught on

rocks

Feral rocks in their natural habitat.

Credit: Dave Matos via Flickr

Credit Gary Ross Dahl with genuine insight. Back in the mid-'70s, the veteran advertising executive had an epiphany: With the right marketing, you can get people to buy anything.

Thus was born the Pet Rock, a fad from that decade only slightly less embarrassing than platform shoes and mullets. OK, way less embarrassing than the mullet, but still.

Dahl, who died in Oregon last week of heart disease at 78, became wealthy when his clever gimmick went on sale in 1975. But his contribution to science is often given short shrift.

By selectively cross-breeding wild rocks, Dahl eventually was able to develop a domesticated strain with the personality traits to make them ideal house pets.

Also, they didn't poop.

Sure, some people took it too far back then. An elderly woman in our neighborhood was known as "the crazy rock lady," while restaurants had to impose bans on Pet Rocks to avoid health code violations. Then there were the "Pet Rock mills," of which the less said, the better.

But as with all fads, interest faded once people realized there was new stupid stuff to waste their money on. 

So farewell, Gary Dahl. Sure, you pried a lot of money out of willful suckers, but you did it with good humor. And you never wore a mullet. 

This story, "Pet Rock creator dies, leaving a mournful nation wondering how such a dumb gimmick caught on" was originally published by Fritterati.

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