It'll Never Fly: The Frisbee

It's hard to imagine kids getting excited by the interminable back-and-forth flight of a flat, featureless disc when, through video games, they can now sample the greater thrill of pro football, carjacking or war. But the humble Frisbee turns 50 this year and it's still flying high in parks and on beaches everywhere. Not bad for an idea that came from the lid of a popcorn can. Fred Morrison of Utah devised the concept while playing a game of popcorn-lid catch, and sold the design for his plastic Pluto Platter to toy company Wham-O. They renamed the disc after a Yale tradition: students there played catch with their canteen's empty pie dishes, and stray throws would come with a shouted warning of 'Frisbie!' - a reference to the pie maker, Frisbie Baking Company. Wham-O marketed its first Frisbee in 1957, and it became a global smash. Morrison earned more than $1 million in royalties. Wham-O has shifted more than 200 million discs, and had its designs copied and modified countless times before being bought by a Chinese firm last year for $80 million. Frisbee golf is played by two million people in the US, and it has professional player associations and courses. Wham-O's 'Steady' Ed Headrick said: 'When we die, we don't go to purgatory, we just land up on the roof and lay there.' He died in 2002, and his ashes were made into Frisbees.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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