Inducted Year: 2023
In the 1950s, scientist and inventor Arthur Holt designed the Corn Popper, a stick with a plastic dome filled with gumball-sized balls. As a child pushed the Corn Popper, the toy sent the colorful balls airborne. When the balls hit the dome, they made a popping noise. The seemingly simple design reflected progressive thinking about how children play and learn—Holt intended for youngsters to use the toy while learning to walk. The Corn Popper’s usefulness and good looks also fit the principles of Good Design established by the Museum of Modern Art and reported on by Time magazine just a few years earlier. The Corn Popper also demonstrated the versality of plastic. In 1957, Holt sold his Corn Popper design for just $50 to Fisher-Price, a company that had begun to specialize in toys for infants and preschoolers in the 1930s.
On behalf of Fisher-Price, employee Ralph W. Crawford filed a patent for the Corn Popper. In his patent application, Crawford explained that “this invention relates to the amusement device art, and more particularly to a new and useful wheeled action for young children.” Through the pushing action, young children strengthen gross motor skills. They grip the handle and use their legs to maneuver the toy. The toy teaches cause and effect while also promoting curiosity and discovery—when the baby pushes the toy, the bright balls hit the dome and the “poppity-pop” begins.
Consistency is the key to the Corn Popper’s success. Throughout the decades, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper has proven affordable, durable, and fun.