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The History of the Pet Rock

Origin of Thought In 1975, Gary Dahl, an advertising executive, launched the sale of a fad that would make him a millionaire. This great profit is even more impressive when one takes into account the short time in which the rocks were sold, only six months, and also the low cost of the product, about four dollars. Dahl’s ingenious marketing involved commonplace gray pebbles, bought from a construction supplier, which were then sold as live pets. The idea was inspired by the hassle, mess, and money that pets such as cats or dogs or fish required. And so, Dahl began the production and sale of the Pet Rock, which did not need to be walked, wouldn’t cost hundreds in vet bills, and would not poop on the floor. Specifics of Production Dahl named the company "Rock Bottom Productions," and sold the rocks for $3.

95 a piece. The pebbles were imported from Rosarito Beach in Baja California, Mexico, and then packaged in a small cardboard box, designed like a pet carrier. Dahl also created a "Pet Rock Training Manual," containing instructions on how to properly care for one's pet, including how to house train one’s pet: "Place it on some old newspapers. The rock will never know what the paper is for and will require no further instruction.” The instruction manual included such commands as sit, stay, roll over, play dead, and come.

Why would anyone ever buy a pet rock? "If there were more fads, there would probably be a lot fewer psychiatrists." —Ben Hakuta, creator of Wacky Wall Walkers Indeed, pet rocks give us more pleasure than we know. These pets support this argument through their very existence, showing us that it is not an actual item that brings joy to the child in the human mind, but merely the idea of the item. The pet sits in a niche in the mind, created by the power of the owners’ imaginations. It is in the actual exercise of the mind that such pleasure is found. It is quite a valid point that finding such productive and effective uses of recreation time can be more preventative and beneficial to the health of our minds that even the most advanced psychological treatments. People who purchased these unusual "pets" often gave them names, talked to them, petted them, and taught them to perform simple "tricks". Pet rocks still live on Like most fads, it never totally died out. There are memorial pages, spin-offs, and one can still purchase such a pet, though new manufacturers have given their rocks new features and looks. For instance, not many plain gray pebbles are sold any more.

One can buy rocks that are inscribed, painted, and decorated in many a manner, lending the rock much more personality than afforded Dahl’s creation. One can purchase a rock with an agenda, or one can buy a rock that is individually painted in memory of any dearly loved pet, or one can still purchase that rock that is completely void of previous perception, and let its idea grow in the mind. Virtual Pets Virtual Pets follow the same formula as Dahl’s product. Operating more in the mind of the owner than anywhere else, Virtual pets can be an electronic toy, a computer program, or even a video game. However, though perhaps securing more time from an owner, virtual pets do not leave as much room for imagination as the pet rock.


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