The Twisted Tale of Slinky, the Most Popular Toy Ever

Simplicity and a catchy jingle helped sell 350 million of them

Slinky took its first springy steps toward becoming a fixture of popular culture on a November day in 1945. Richard James, who had invented the coiled-spring toy, and his wife Betty, who coined the "Slinky" name (based on the novelty's sleek, sinuous style of motion), persuaded Gimbels department store in Philadelphia to provide counter space for a demonstration. To the delight of shoppers, the Slinky appeared to "walk" down a ramp, end-over-end, owing to gravity's pull and its own momentum. Richard and Betty sold out of their initial run of 400 Slinkys, priced at $1 each, in just 90 minutes.