Pet Rock Creator, Gary Dahl, Dies at 78

gary dahlJACKSONVILLE, OR – Gary Dahl, the man who created the Pet Rock in 1975, died on March 23. He was 78.

Originally meant as a joke, the idea for a pet that didn’t require any care-taking or commitment originally came to Dahl, who as working as a copywriter at the time, one night over drinks at a bar. When the conversation moved to pets and caring for them is often laborious, Dahl thought that no one would have to feed or walk a pet if it were an egg-shaped rock.

Dahl worked with two colleagues as investors and bought Mexican beach stones at about a penny apiece, but the Pet Rock needed a home. The packaging made it complete. Each was housed in a cardboard carrying case, nestled on a bed of excelsior, along with a manual for “caring” for the “pet.”

pet rockSold for $3.95, the Pet Rock hit store shelves by Christmas 1975 and quickly took off, selling more than a million. It was featured on The Tonight Show and newspapers across the country. Unfortunately, the playful fad didn’t last too long, but it made Dahl a millionaire and forever remembered as the man who created the Pet Rock.

Gary Ross Dahl was born on Dec. 18, 1936, in Bottineau, ND. He later moved into advertising after studying at what is now Washington State University. With the money he made from the Pet Rock, Dahl later ran a sailboat brocekerage firm, opened a saloon in Los Gatos, CA, and authored Advertising for Dummies in 2001.

He is survived by his third wife, the former Marguerite Wood; sister, Candace Dahl; two children, Christine Nunez and Eric Dahl, from his first marriage; a daughter, Samantha Leighton, from his second; a stepdaughter, Vicki Pershing; and seven grandchildren.

“People are so damn bored, tired of all their problems,” Dahl told People magazine in 1975. “This takes them on a fantasy trip. You might say we’ve packaged a sense of humor.”

Playthings Staff | Playthings Staff

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