Millennial History

By Steve Jackson

The Plastic Flying Saucer

On January 23, 1957, machines at the Wham-O toy company rolled out the first batch of aerodynamic plastic disks—now known to fans all over the world as Frisbees.   

    The story of the Frisbee began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in 1871. Students from nearby universities would throw the empty pie tins to each other, yellow “Frisbie!” as they let go. In 1948, Walter Frederick Morrison and his partner, Warren Franscioni, invented a plastic version of the disk called the “ Flying Saucer “ that could fly farther and more accurately then the tin pie plates. After splitting with Franscioni, Morrison made an improved model in 1955 and sold it to the new toy company Wham-O. In 1958, a year after the toy’s first release, Wham-O —the company behind the Hula-Hoop and the Super Ball—changed its name to the Frisbee disk, misspelling the name of the historic pie company. Wham-O sold more than 200,000,000 units of its famous toy by its fiftieth anniversary in 2007.

   As radio icon Paul Harvey used to comment after one of his tales “ Now you know the rest of the story.”



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