Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.
Thank you very much;
you're only a step away from
downloading your reports.

Random Genius: The Frisbee


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a... pie plate.

On July 8, 1947, the Roswell Daily Record headline read: "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer."

All over the world, a newfound fascination with mysterious objects in the skies was born. The Frisbee was one of them.

That same year, Walter Frederick Morrison was likely relieved to have both feet on the ground. He'd flown 58 missions over Italy during World War II before being shot down and imprisoned in Stalag 13, a notorious German POW camp. Upon returning to California, Morrison met up with another veteran, Warren Franscioni. Both airmen were looking for work.

"I first met Fred Morrison in late 1947," Franscioni wrote in 1973. "He was a struggling World War II veteran trying to build a home for his family... At that time, I was attempting to establish a bottle gas business."

Minyanville's Random Genius The 2 airmen didn't have much luck in the bottle-gas business. But Morrison had another idea. On Thanksgiving Day, 1937, Morrison and his wife Lu passed the time tossing a popcorn lid back and forth through the air. Morrison was convinced that the toy was the key to his and Franscioni's success.

In fact, the flying disc had been around for decades, though in a slightly different form. The Frisbie Baking Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was known for one thing: Its delicious pies. College students, some of Frisbie's most devoted customers, would toss the empty pie tins back and forth after devouring the pies.

But there was a problem with the tins - one that prevented them from really taking off: They were, well, tin. Besides hurting people's hands, metal pie tins were extremely loud when they hit the ground.

So while Fred Morrison may not have invented the flying saucer, he did have the foresight to build them out of soft plastic. In 1948, Morrison and Franscioni developed the first plastic disc. They called it the Whirlo-Way.

"Hundreds of flying saucers are scheduled to invade San Luis Obispo," the Telegram-Tribune reported. "Two local men have invented a new, patented plastic toy shaped like the originally reported saucer."

Again, people were looking up to the sky: In 1955, Morrison made a new disc called the Pluto Platter. During a demonstration in a Los Angeles parking lot, Rich Knerr and Spud Melin spotted the Platter and liked what they saw. Their firm, the Wham-O toy company, bought the patent from Morrsion and took the disk on the road.

Meanwhile, in New England, college students were still playing with Frisbie's pie pans. After throwing the pans, students would yell out "Frisbie!" Knerr and Melin heard the cries, and a light bulb went off: They'd call their new toy the "Frisbie."

A fateful misspelling (or pending charges of copyright infringement) sealed the deal, and the Frisbee as we know it was born.

And thank God: What would UC Santa Cruz and UVM undergrads do without it?
< Previous
  • 1
Next >
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Featured Videos