On This Day In Finance: June 19 - Two "Loopy" Million-Dollar Inventions Are Born

By Peter Cherewyk | June 18, 2009 AAA

On June 19, 1958, the Hula Hoop trademark was being sought. Two entrepreneurs, Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin, were attempting to gain the rights to a toy made popular in Australia. The plastic hoop had a suggested retail price of $1.98 (about $7.90 in today's dollars) and sold more than 100 million in its first year alone. Think you can invent a simple toy to mesmerize the ages, and become a millionaire? Think again. Days of the pet rock and Frisbee seem to be a thing of the past. Perhaps modern equivalents come in the form of iPhone apps. By September of 2008, Steve Demeter, the developer of a hit iPhone game Trism, cleared $250,000 in just two months. It helped that there were very few games back then, and high demand. (Interested? See Ridiculous Ideas That Made People Millions.)

Speaking of Hoops ...
On July 19, 1941, another hoop was invented, but this one sold millions in its first day. Cheerios was created by General Mills (NYSE:GIS) and named Cheeri-Oats. The tiny O's were declared the first ready-to-eat oat cereal. The new snack was obviously a huge success, as the brand branched off to Honey Nut, Multi Grain, Apple Cinnamon, Frosted and more. Today, General Mills today is a huge conglomerate worth more than $18 billion and will deliver full year earnings on July 1, 2009.

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