Children have gone from spinning American-made tops and twirling hula-hoops to playing foreign-made video games and using tablet computers as toys have evolved during the last 100 years. But many classic toys remain popular and made in the USA. From Slinkys to roller skates, we’ve picked 10 of our favorite old-fashioned toys. Is yours on our list?
Manufacturer: POOF-Slinky LLC.
Invented by Richard James in 1945 as a cushioning device for warships, the stair-climbing children’s toy sprung to popularity in the 1960s. Owned today by POOF-Slinky LLC, the metal walking toy is still made at factories in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and Plymouth, Michigan.
Manufacturer: Wiffle Ball Inc.
Perforated plastic balls and thin yellow plastic bats have been a backyard staple since David N. Mullany created the modified baseball game in 1952. More than 60 years later, the lightweight wonders are still manufactured and distributed by Wiffle Ball Inc., in Shelton, Connecticut.
Read more: Interview with inventor David Mullany
Manufacturer: Springbok (Allied Products Inc.)
Imagine yourself walking among the daisies or staring at the Eiffel Tower as you connect hundreds — or even thousands — of interlocking pieces to complete your own jigsaw puzzle masterpiece. Since 1963, Kansas City, Missouri-based Springbok has produced high-quality, die-cut puzzles with a strong loyalty among serious puzzlers. While putting the pieces together may be challenging, picking which brand of puzzle to buy won’t be!
The Original Big Wheel
Manufacturer: Gamma2 Inc.
Invented in 1968, the Big Wheel tricycle quickly gained popularity as an easy, safe-for-kids ride-on toy. The trademark for the Original Big Wheel has belonged to several companies, but the famous trike is now manufactured by Gamma2 Inc. in Carlsbad, California. The company also has facilities in Gardena, California and Sweetwater, Tennessee.
Classic plastic Army men
Manufacturer: Timmee Toys (J. Lloyd International)
In the 1930s, the first plastic toy army men imitated World War I soldiers and supported the burgeoning plastics industry. After World War II, the solid-colored, American-made toys continued growing in popularity. More than 75 years later, Timmee Toys still manufactures the classic toy in Kalkaska, Michigan.
Sure-Grip roller skates
Manufacturer: Sure-Grip International
Inventor John L. Wintz revolutionized the roller skate in 1937 when he replaced the slippery wooden wheels with a hard abrasion-resistant plastic variety used in manufacturing facilities. The first trademarked Sure-Grip skate was manufactured in 1945, and the company has since become the largest manufacturer of high-quality recreational roller skates in the world. All skates are made in South Gate, California.
Manufacturer: Crayola (Hallmark Cards)
More than a century after the first box of safe wax crayons rolled off the assembly line in 1903, many children are still introduced to art with brilliantly colored, high-quality Crayola crayons. Part of a vast collection of art-inspired products, Crayola crayons are manufactured in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.
Read more: Tour the Crayola Crayons factory
Manufacturer: Smethport Specialty Company (Patch Products)
The popularity of facial hair has surged in recent years with beards appearing on TV shows like “Duck Dynasty” and as part of the men’s health awareness campaign, Movember. But beards have always been popular with workers at the Smethport, Pennsylvania, home of Wooly Willy, the cartoon face players can decorate by using a magnetic wand to drag metal filings under a clear plastic bubble. In 1955, brothers David and James Herzog created the simple toy for their father’s company Smethport Products, which still manufactures the toy today.
Meet the inventor of the Wooly Willy!
Manufacturer: Hillerich & Bradsby Company
Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle all set records swinging wooden bats made by Louisville Slugger. But the famous factory that has been turning out bats since 1884 almost took a different direction as a maker of stair railings and butter churns. John A. “Bud” Hillerich, a determined 17-year-old, convinced his father bats were the future, and today, the iconic brand made in Louisville, Kentucky, is the No. 1 name in baseball.
Go inside the Louisville Slugger factory.
Manufacturer: Flambeau Inc.
Yo-yo-like toys have been around for thousands of years, but it was entrepreneur Donald F. Duncan who in 1929 bought out his only competitor and patented the name Yo-Yo. In 1965, the Duncan family lost a trademark case and sold the business to Flambeau Inc., who still owns the company today. Yo-yos are manufactured at multiple U.S. facilities including the company headquarters in Middlefield, Ohio.