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The pet rock: history of our namesake

Here at Pet Rock headquarters, we love trivia and pop culture. We love it so much that we named ourselves after one of the biggest phenomena in pop culture: the pet rock fad of the mid-'70s. 

I remember it well. I was too young to actually buy a pet rock of my own, but I enjoyed my older sister's, even though I wasn't allowed to touch it. I still remember the box it came in -- it had a handle and some all-important air holes. But, in hindsight, its plainness seems a bit odd. If they were popular today, pet rocks surely would be available in different "characters" and would be way more expensive, though $3.95 was nothing to scoff at back then.

It was 1975, and, as the story goes, advertising executive Gary Dahl was in a bar listening to his friends complain about their pets. The conversation inspired him to create the perfect pet, one that wouldn't chew furniture, smell up the house, bark at the letter carrier, get sick or die: a rock.

Dahl created and reportedly sold more than 5 million Pet Rocks for $3.95 apiece in just six months. It was one of the biggest fads of the decade, and perhaps of all time. It also was quite possibly the best example of marketing genius of all time: The rocks cost next to nothing and the packaging reportedly cost less than 30 cents each, according to petsdo.com. Experts believe Dahl made a cool $15 million -- roughly $63 million in today's greenbacks, according to my calculations using Dollar Times inflation calculator.

My father always used to say it would be pretty easy to become a millionaire: "Just invent something you could sell for a dollar," he would advise, "and sell a million of them."

I'm still working on it, Dad ...

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