It’s hard to imagine how demand was generated for toys before $100 million ad campaigns, or even before the Sears-Roebuck catalog. But it would have been equally hard for people back then to imagine shoppers crashing through doors and hurting one another over videogame consoles. Anyway, here’s a Forbes list of the 20th century’s most popular toys, the Xboxes of their day (except delivered as promised to the local dry-goods store). It’s too bad the Raggedy Ann doll isn’t still popular—TV stations could use them to mock-illustrate crazed shoppers tearing one another limb from limb. Forbes reports that the first toy to be advertised on television, in 1952, was Mr. Potato Head. Sales of the plastic spud totaled $4 million that year—about $30 million in 2005 dollars. That’s a figure that might even warm the heart of Bill Gates.
—Posted by Gregory Solman