Frisbee still flying high 50 years later
Associated PressPublished: Saturday, June 16, 2007
Wham-O Inc. changed the name of the Pluto Platter to Frisbee 50 years ago Sunday, flinging a new word into popular culture that still conjures images of carefree fun in the park and breezy days at the beach.
Walter (Fred) Morrison, inventor of the beloved disc, thought the new name would never fly.
"I thought Frisbee was a terrible name," Morrison, now 87, said. "I thought it was insane."
Frisbee instead became insanely popular, making the name as synonymous with flying discs as Google is with Internet searches and Kleenex is with tissue.
But Wham-O does not allow the Frisbee name to be thrown around indiscriminately. When the company sees Frisbee used to describe discs made by other manufacturers, lawyers dispatch legal notices seeking to protect the trademarked term.
Frisbee's name is a spin-off from a now-defunct Connecticut bakery, the Frisbie Pie Co..
New England college students often tossed empty pie tins around for fun, a habit that led them to refer to the Pluto Platter as a "frisbie."
Wham-O co-founders Rich Knerr and Arthur (Spud) Mellin first obtained the marketing rights to Morrison's invention in January 1957.
Less than six months later, Knerr made the fateful decision to embrace the "frisbie" nickname, although evidently he was unclear on its spelling, making if "Frisbee."
Morrison said he first tossed around a popcorn lid at a Thanksgiving gathering in 1937 and later graduated to cake pans.
When he first started to think of designing a flying disc, Morrison called it the "Whirlo-Way" in a tribute to the racehorse Whirlaway, which won the 1941 Triple Crown.
By the time Morrison finally had enough money to develop a mould for his concept, there had been reports of a spacecraft crashing in Roswell, N.M.. Morrison ended up calling his first line of discs "Flyin-Saucers." After upgrading his design, Morrison then called the disc the Pluto Platter.
Wham-O has been trying to capitalize on the Frisbee's 50th anniversary by releasing collector's editions of the early models. The privately held company says hundreds of millions of Frisbees have been sold, but will not be any more specific than that.
Meanwhile, Morrison is still collecting royalties off a name he did not really like. "It just goes to show I am a bad judge of names," he said.
Wham-O ,........................Frisbee,.................Happy Birthday