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Do You Remember the Pet Rock Craze? Here’s How it Started

Jeff Dorsey

The year was 1975. The place was a bar in Los Gatos, California. That is where a struggling 38-year-old freelance writer by the name of Gary Dahl was enjoying his favorite beverage when the conversation turned to pets and all the work it is to have them. What happened next is beyond belief.  

With pets you have to feed them, house them and cleanup after them. The patrons were all taking about the dogs and cats they owned when they turned to Gary and asked “What pet do you have ?” Gary’s response jokingly was “I have a pet rock. I don’t need to walk it, feed it or cleanup after it. It just sits there.” With that statement, one of the craziest marketing schemes ever went into effect.

The Pet Rock idea was ready for marketing. Dahl convinced two investors to be a part of the project which led him to purchase smooth Mexican beach stones for just a penny a piece. What came next was the real genius in the plan. These rocks were packaged with air holes (for the rock to breathe) in a small cardboard box with paper under it.

Dahl’s selling point was that this pet will know what the paper is for without any training and it will stay there until you move it. Dogs and cats won’t do that. Dahl began selling his rocks for $4 per rock. Soon after, he was invited to be on the Tonight Show and the sales of Pet Rocks took off. Dahl sold 1.5 million rocks hauling in some $6 million.

Steve Dahl died in April of 2015 at the age of 78, but his idea is one for the ages. Isn’t this a great country? Only in America. I have to leave now, it’s time to go move my rock!

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