With Christmas only a few days away now, it got us thinking: Stuckey’s has been offering great Christmas gifts since W.S. Stuckey first set up his little lean-to shack back in 1937. That’s 84 Christmases!
Next, our minds only naturally got to wondering what some of the most popular toys have been since we first opened all those Christmases ago. So, with our inquisitive minds leading the way, we researched it and here they are – the top toys on every kids Christmas list for each year Stuckey’s has been in business:
|Pedal Cars: How apt is it that this was the most popular gift the same year that Stuckey’s got its start?
|Red Ryder BB Gun: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”
|Army Men: Though first produced in 1938, the popularity of these little green men really took off after World War II began in 1939.
|Soap Bubbles: Okay, so bubbles have been around practically since the beginning of physics, but in 1940 when Chemtoy began bottling its own bubble solution, blowing bubbles became really *POP*-ular
|Tinkertoys: Invented by stonemason Charles H. Pajeau, who designed the toy after seeing children play with sticks and empty spools of thread.
|Little Golden Books: Hundreds of thousands of these little books were sold for a quarter each in their first year thanks to their low costs compared to other children’s books.
|Chutes and Ladders: Milton Bradley brought the popular Indian game Snakes and Ladders to America, changed its name to Chutes and Ladders, and became an immediate hit in time for Christmas 1943.
|Dick Tracy Junior Detective Kit: In 1944, every kid asked Santa for the Dick Tracy Junior Detective Kit, complete with a manual, suspect information, a badge, a secret decoder, a membership card and more, just like the big guy.
|Slinky: This “wonderful, wonderful toy” was invented by mechanical engineer Richard James who accidently knocked over one of the springs he was designing and noticed it walked down the shelf on its own accord.
|Penny Toys: These brightly-colored, metal wind-up toys were made in post-war Germany and Japan and flooded the U.S. market after the war.
|Electric Football: BZZZZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz! (We’re sure parents didn’t find this toy annoying at all.)
|Tinymite Radio: a crystal radio for kids so they could tune into Dick Tracy, the Green Hornet, and the Cisco Kid.
|Silly Putty: Chemical engineer James Wright accidentally created Silly Putty while attempting to create a new synthetic rubber; after taking it home to his kids, they started stretching it, bouncing it, and (we assume) they used it to transfer comics. As a result, Wright turned it into a toy.
|Magic 8 Ball: Originally created in the shape of a tube by Albert C. Carter, a psychic’s son, novelty promoter Abe Bookman turned it into a crystal ball, and Brunswick Billiards turned it into an 8 ball as a promotional item (perhaps inspired by the Three Stooges). What’s the chance of you still getting one for Christmas in 2021? “Outlook good.”
|View Master: The closest we came to virtual reality as kids was the View Master 3D Viewer. The modern version of the stereoscope was first created for 3D nature photographs from around the world. Walt Disney changed that in 1951 when his television films became the subject of the View Master’s reels.
|Mr. Potato Head: The first Mr. Potato Head only came with the parts of the face. Kids provided their own potato. You can also thank Mr. Potato Head for being the first toy to have its own commercial.
|Matchbox Cars: When inventor Jack Odell’s daughter could only take toys to school that could fit in a matchbox, he created these little die-cast cars she could take to school. When the other kids saw them, they fell in love with them and a legend was born.
|Wiffle Ball and Bat: Just as you might have guessed, the inventor of Wiffle Ball created it so his kids wouldn’t break the neighbor’s windows when playing ball.
|Gumby: He started out as a little green slab of clay. Then he got his own TV show along with his red clay pony friend, Pokie, and kid’s fell in love with them. As a result, Gumby toys flew off the shelves at Christmastime in 1955.
|PEZ: Short for the German “Pfefferminz” (peppermints), PEZ was first created as an anti-smoking tool for adults (which is kind of ironic seeing how the original dispenser looks like a cigarette lighter). Nevertheless, after character heads were introduced in 1956 (starting with Popeye the Sailor) kids all over America found PEZ in their Christmas stockings that year.
|Frisbee: Americans had been throwing around Frisbie Pie Company pie tins since 1871, but when Wham-O created their plastic disc and modified the name in 1957, the Frisbee became a national craze.
|Hula Hoop: used by children and adults since at least 500 BC, the modern hula hoop was inspired by Australian bamboo hoops. Wham-O hit the big time again this year with a new plastic version that became all the rage in 1958 and for years to come.
|Barbie: Barbie Millicent Roberts made her debut at the New York Toy Fair March 9, 1959 and over 300,000 dolls were sold by Christmas.
|Etch-A-Sketch: Invented in Germany in 1959, the Etch-A-Sketch didn’t really catch on until the next year when the Ohio Art company bought the rights and flooded televisions with ads for
|Chatty Cathy: Thanks to a record player implanted in her belly, Chatty Cathy could say “I love you”, “I hurt myself!”, “Please take me with you”, and eight other phrases.
|Legos: Legos first came out in 1958, but when they added the Lego wheel in 1962, the toy really took off, much to the chagrin of many a bare-footed parent.
|Easy Bake Oven: Little bakers could use a little light bulb to create little cakes just in time for a big Christmas dinner.
|G.I. Joe: Hasbro’s answer to the Barbie for boys, the “action figure” sold 16 million in its first year.
|Operation: Everyone was a doctor in the house when Cavity Sam came over for Christmas 1965.
|Twister: One of the first games to use the human body as a game piece, the Twister fad became bigger than the hula hoop after maker Milton Bradley was accused of selling sex in a box.
|Barrel of Monkeys: What was more fun than a barrel of monkeys in 1967? Apparently not much.
|Hot Wheels: Pimped out versions of the Matchbox cars, Hot Wheels immediately took over the market with its “Original Sweet 16” line-up of die-cast cars.
|Flatsy: What would happen if you ran Barbie over with a steamroller? Well, you’d get Flatsy, the doll that was all the rage for Christmas 1969. “She flat, and that’s that!”
|Nerf: When Parker Brother’s got tired of getting in trouble for playing ball inside, they invented a soft foam ball that wouldn’t hurt a fly, called it “Nerf” and sold 4 million of them in 1970.
|Weebles: These little egg shaped people made by Playskool might have wobbled, but they certainly didn’t fall down. A favorite of generations of kids, they still wobble today.
|Big Wheel: Every kid on the block had one and started patrolling the sidewalks of America in their own little Big Wheel gangs.
|Baby Alive: In 1973, lifelike dolls were the biggest thing in toy dolls since Flatsy and Baby Alive was the most popular of them all. She “chewed” her food with her little mechanical mouth and then pooped it out of her little mechanical butt – just like a real baby!
|Magna Doodle: Magna Doodle was kind of a cross between the Magic Slate and Wooly Willy – or maybe Etch-A-Sketch with a pen – for the artistic kids in your family.
|Pet Rock: What started as a barroom joke quickly became one of the biggest products ever in consumer history. The fact that you didn’t have to walk it, feed it, or even teach it any tricks besides “Sit” made it the perfect Christmas pet for the future slackers of Gen-X.
|Stretch Armstrong: the biggest Christmas toy for America’s Bicentennial year wasn’t a G.I. Joe Minuteman action figure or Betsy Ross baby doll. It was a blonde, Speedo-wearing muscle man that kids tried to dismember by stretching his arms and legs as far as they could. Though he was tough on the outside, he was full of sweet corn syrup on the inside.
|Mattel Electronic Football: In late 1977, Mattel released its Electronic Classic Football game – one of the first handheld electronic games ever created. Like the game’s little red blip of a running back found its way around other little red blip defenders to the end zone, the game quickly found its way under many a Christmas tree in 1978.
|Star Wars Action Figures: After the 1977 success of Star Wars, Kenner was quick to jump on the sci-fi film’s bandwagon, licensing the Star Wars franchise’s characters for all sorts of puzzle and games which were met with lukewarm results. However, the force was with them when they released the 3¾” action figures of Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia in 1978. That Christmas (and for years after) Kenner’s Star Wars toys became as popular as the franchise itself.
|Atari 2600: The granddaddy of all home gaming consoles. Kids no longer had to shell out their allowance in quarters down at the corner store to play space invaders and Breakout. After Christmas 1979, they could play all these games for free at home.
|Rubik’s Cube: Invented six years earlier by Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor Ernő Rubik. It was originally created as an engineering experiment. In fact, Rubik didn’t actually know he invented a puzzle until he scrambled his cube and couldn’t put it back to its original state. Nevertheless, it was voted “Toy of the Year” at many toy fairs around the world in 1980, and many who got the puzzle for Christmas that year were still trying to figure out how to solve it during the Christmas season of 1981.
|Smurfs: First created by the artist Peyo in 1959, Les Schtroumpfs (as they were known then) got their start as comic series characters. When they debuted on American television as a cartoon in September 1981, every kid wanted something Smurfy for Christmas that year and toy manufacturers didn’t let them down.
|My Little Pony: Following the original My Pretty Pony toy that was introduced in 1981, My Little Pony was launched in 1982 and featured colorful bodies, manes and a unique symbol known as “cutie marks” on one or both sides of their flanks.
|Cabbage Patch Kids: Once word got around about Xavier Roberts Little People dolls that you could “adopt” after they were “born”, the 21-year-old Georgia folk artist couldn’t keep up with the demand. As a result, he made a deal with Coleco who started mass producing them as Cabbage Patch Kids. However, it seems even Coleco couldn’t keep up with customer demand as mobs and brawls were reported nationwide when parents wanted to adopt one for their kids in time for Christmas.
|Transformers: Transformers are more than meets the eye. In fact, they were robots in disguise. Simultaneously coming out the same time as their Saturday morning cartoon show, Transformers toys were robots that folded themselves into everyday objects like cars, planes, boomboxes and even a McDonald’s Big Mac, fries and shake which ended up making Transformers one of the most successful franchises in history.
|Teddy Ruxpin: This animatronic “llliop” – a make-believe species of bear-looking creatures that can talk – moved his mouth and eyes as he told kids a story via a cassette tape player built into his back.
|Pound Puppies: These lovable little plush pups with floppy ears and droopy eyes came in a variety of the usual canine colors including gray, brown and white. (Some even came with spots). Each Pound Puppy came in a cardboard case shaped like a doghouse, and much like Cabbage Patch Kids, each also came with an “adoption” certificate. Not to leave out their feline loving friends, a line of cats called Pound Pur-r-ries was also released.
|Koosh Ball: The world was introduced to the Koosh Ball in 1987 by its inventor, Scott Stillinger, who just wanted to teach his kids how to play catch without them being afraid of the ball. Making a sample out of rubber bands, he believed so much in his product that he quit his job. His confidence paid off, however, and the easily caught ball with 2,000 rubber strands that Stillinger called a Koosh Ball was on every kid’s Christmas wish list.
|Nintendo Entertainment System: After the video game crash of 1983, it was Nintendo that revived the scene with the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. Though kids went ape over Donkey Kong at the arcade, they weren’t so keen on bringing the bad monkey home. However, with the release of Super Mario Bros., Mario once again saved the day (and the video gaming industry) because on Christmas morning 1988, every boy and girl wanted Nintendo under their Christmas tree.
|Game Boy: Nintendo did it again in 1989 when they released Gameboy – a handheld video game system. Now kids (and, admittedly, adults) could play Tetris (a puzzle game that came with the initial system) and other popular games anywhere they wanted.
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Action Figures: These heroes on the half-shell took the country by storm with a comic book, a cartoon and by Christmas 1990 – their own action-figures.
|Pogs: Though they probably didn’t find them under their Christmas trees back then, kids in Hawaii were playing a game with milk caps they called “pogs” way back in 1900. Nearly a century later, Hawaiian schoolteacher Blossom Galbiso taught her students how to play and in 1991, Pogs became all the rage for kids nationwide.
|Barbie Dream House: 33 years after her debut, Barbie seemed to have it all including her own dream house complete with slide, elevator and her very own pool. She also had her eye on another house – the White House – as she also ran for President in 1992.
|Talkboy: What began as just a non-working prop in the1992 film Home Alone 2 came into fruition when fans of the film started a letter writing campaign to produce the real thing. Toymakers listened and Talkboy – a voice-changing cassette recorder – was the talk of the town at Christmastime that year.
|Power Rangers: What started as a live-action television show in 1993, soon turned into eight-mile-long traffic jams to meet the Power Rangers themselves by the next year. As a result, Power Rangers also overpowered all of the holiday wish lists all over America by 1994. By 1995, however, it was more like people were feeling overwhelmed by the Power Rangers and they quickly fell out of favor with most kids. Although, as you’ll see later, they weren’t counted out just yet.
|Beanie Babies: The folks at Ty Warner are pretty clever. The makers of Beanie Babies – 1995’s Christmas craze – noticed that after they “retired” a stuffed lamb named Lovie, customer demand skyrocketed (as did Lovie’s value). As a result, they started arbitrarily “retiring” different Beanie Babies bringing in billions of dollars by Christmas 1995. Today, the retired 1997 Princess the Diana Bear can fetch up to nearly a million dollars in mint condition.
|Tickle Me Elmo: The more you tickled the most popular resident of Sesame Street, the more he shook with laughter. Though Tickle Me Elmo was released in July, not a lot of people were tickled by him, however, and it wouldn’t be until Rosie O’Donnell featured America’s favorite muppet on her popular talk show that toy manufacture Tyco Preschool were laughing all the way to the bank, selling one million of toys by Christmas.
|Tamagotchi: The portable electronic pocket version of that egg you had to take care of for like half a semester of Health class in high school, Tamagotchi was a portable pet you had to feed, play with, and help grow. If you forget to pause the game, or leave it alone while you go hang out with your friends at the mall, your pet died. No problem, however, because just like real life, all you had to was either press both the A and C buttons together or push the reset button on the back of the toy and you got a new pet to neglect.
|Furbies: These creepy but popular toys were kind of a 3-D version of a Tamagotchi toys that looked like a hybrid of Gizmo from Gremlins and Charlie the Owl from the New Zoo Revue. They learned to speak by watching you. It watched you while you played with it. It watched you while you did your homework. It watched you while you slept. Always watching…
|Pokemon Trading Cards: In a nutshell, Pokemon is sort of like the card game “War” where you play two cards against each other and whoever has the strongest character card wins their opponent’s card. Though parents were thrilled to give their kids all 228 cards for Christmas, they were soon complaining that Pokemon led to their kids developing gambling problems and filed lawsuits against the company that created them.
|Razor Scooter: First released in 2000, this scooter sold over 5 million units by Christmas of that year. 21 years later, the Razor Scooter is still a popular mode of transportation today among kids and adults alike.
|Bratz: In 2001, Barbie’s reign as “America’s Favorite Doll” was usurped by four Bratz with “a passion for fashion” named Yasmin, Cloe, Jade, and Sasha with their cute doe-like eyes, edgy attitudes, and glittery make-up that would make Edward the Twilight vampire blush.
|Beyblades: In 1999, Japanese toymaker Takara (now Takara Tomy) took one of the oldest known toys in the history of the world, combined it with Ideal’s 1968 board game Battling Tops, and created Beyblades – customized spinning battle tops that battled it the Beystadium arena. Three years later, they were the hit of Christmas 2002.
|Electronic Hulk Hands: These big, green, soft-foam rubber gloves make smash and bash sounds whenever kids, well, smash or bash something with them. After winning, the Toy Association’s Toy of the Year Award in 2003, Electronic Hulk Hands smashed their competition and became the biggest selling toy for Christmas that same year.
|Robosapien: Just six short years after the whole Furby craze, robotics had come so far that now kids could own their very own trainable robot that not only interacted with them (without all that weird staring that the Furbys did, we might add), but also pretty much did whatever they were told to do. That said, who wouldn’t want their own personal robot for Christmas.
|Xbox 360: In November 2005, Microsoft put their hat in the gaming console ring with their release of the Xbox 360. It was in such high demand that Christmas shoppers waited outside stores overnight just to get one, often leaving empty-handed because of the low supply.
|PlayStation 3: The fact that the third generation of Sony’s Playstation was the most expensive of any video game system to date didn’t stop people from buying it and making it Christmas 2006’s “must have” gift. The fact that it also came in multiple versions including a 20GB or 60GB hard drive didn’t hurt, either. (Yeah, yeah…we know, but that was a lot of gigs back then.)
|Nintendo DS: With the biggest update to their handheld devices since the release of their Gameboy in 1989, Nintendo tops the list once again in Christmas of 2007 with the release of the Nintendo DS, a dual-screen touchscreen device that sold 154 million units and became the most popular handheld gaming device ever.
|Nintendo Wii: Nintendo did it again in 2008 with the Nintendo Wii – their first major motion-sensitive console. Originally released in 2006, in finally caught on in 2008, selling 13.4 million that year alone.
|Zhu Zhu Pets: Robot pets made a comeback in time for Christmas 2009 with the release of Zhu Zhu pets – loveable little robotic pets whose retail value was only $9 when it was first released. By Christmas, they were going for $60 each because they were in such high demand.
|iPad: For those who wanted all the convenience of an i-Phone without the phone, Apple gave us the iPad. Sales had reached millions by the end of 2010 as both big and little boys and girls found them underneath their Christmas trees that year.
|Let’s Rock Elmo: Elmo was back and ready to rock and roll. Not only did he sing, but he also played a variety of musical instruments, too. He knew six songs, and even though none of those songs were covers of the Foo Fighters, kids all over the world were still tickled with Elmo.
|Wii U: Here comes Nintendo again with their second incarnation of the Wii – Wii U. They lasted on the shelves barely a week in November 2012 before they were all sold out.
|Big Hugs Elmo: Elmo was back and ready to give everybody big hugs for Christmas in 2013. However, poor Elmo got so excited about hugging you, his batteries started overheating and he was recalled back to Sesame Street shortly into the new year.
|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Rereleased Action Figures: Did you think that Frozen was going to be on this list for 2014? Well, you’d be wrong because after Christmas sales reports showed that everyone’s favorite heroes on the half shell- Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo – outsold Elsa and friends during the 2014 Christmas season.
|BB-8 Droid: Like Nintendo, Elmo, electronic pets, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in previous years, robots also made a comeback just in time for the holidays with the BB-8 droid that rolled around floors of Star Wars nerds of all ages on Christmas morning 2015.
|Hatchimals: These adorable, interactive toys hatched out of eggs after a little care and became such an instant hit stores could barely get them out of the box and on the shelves before they were all sold out.
|Fingerlings: originally little robotic monkeys that would attach to your finger and make monkey noises, this toy line grew to include other animals like pandas, elephants and even unicorns.
|The Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage: Everything old was new again in 2018 as the Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage was voted Toy Of The Year Award and went on to become the number one toy that Christmas – 50 years after it was first introduced.
|Baby Shark Song Puppet: Famous for past Christmas list toppers like Robosapiens and Fingerlings, WowWee topped Christmas lists again in 2019 with the WowWee Pinkfong Baby Shark Official Song Puppet – a cute, yellow, baby shark that sings along to “Baby Shark” (We’re you expecting Nickleback?) with the movement of your hand. The faster or slower you move your hand, the faster or slower Baby Shark sings along.
|Star Wars Baby Yoda: Awesome and adorable, Baby Yoda is. Star Wars was back in 2020, baby, and the baby Jedi Master-to-be came complete with 25 sound and motion combinations including the use of “the Force”.
|We’re not sure what this year’s toy trend will be as there are a lot of great products to choose from. What we do know, however, is this year, just like every year since 1937, Stuckey’s merchandise always makes great holiday gifts. From stuffing Christmas stockings with our world famous Stuckey’s pecan log rolls or keeping comfy cozy with Stuckey’s branded socks, there’s sure to be something from Stuckey’s for everybody on your Christmas list this year and every year. Merry Christmas, everyone!
So what was the most popular toy the year you were born? Do you remember Santa bringing you any of the toys on our list?
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