Today was the day in 1956 that the government issued a patent for Play-Doh.

Millions of kids have built bazillions of things with this colorful stuff, but in its first life, Play-Doh had a very different job.

It was made by Kutol Products, a wallpaper cleaning company in Ohio.

In the early 20th century, their Kutol (pronounced “Cut-All”) Wall Cleaner was a popular way to get coal soot out of wallpaper.

But by the mid 20th century, fewer and fewer people were using coal in their homes.

And the newer vinyl wallpapers could be cleaned with just soap and water.

The head of Kutol, Joseph McVicker, was looking for a plan B.

Fortunately, he found one.

His sister-in-law, Kay Zufall, was a preschool teacher, and she’d read an article about how some people had started using this extra wallpaper cleaning compound for crafting.

She tried it with her own students, and they loved it.

The stuff was easy to bend and shape, easy to re-use, and most importantly, it was non-toxic.

Zufall convinced McVicker that the increasingly obsolete wall compound had a big future as a toy.

She and her husband Bob even came up with the name Play-Doh; McVicker and his people were planning on calling the stuff “Rainbow Modeling Compound.”

Play-Doh first went before kids in Cincinnati in 1955.

Originally it was all white, but the company started expanding its color line just as it started expanding to new markets.

It also got a lot of help from TV star Bob Keeshan.

The man known as “Captain Kangaroo” talked about Play-Doh on his show each week, and in return, he got a percentage of the profits.

Play-Doh has now sold, by some estimates, over 3 billion of those little cans.

It’s been added to the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The company has even trademarked the product’s famous scent!

Fair to say at this point that Play-Doh is the most successful and most well known wallpaper cleaning compound-turned-children’s toy of all time.

Here’s the story of a new use for a relatively new game.

ChaCha Watson of Chicago was at work, and she needed to ask her 11 year old daughter Miracle to take some food out of the freezer so they could heat it up for dinner.

Miracle didn’t answer her mom’s phone call, but ChaCha had another idea.

She got on Roblox, where she quickly found her daughter, and, message received.

Why Play Doh Stays Hugely Popular, 60 Years Later (Fortune)

Made in Jersey: Play-Doh is a Dover teacher’s handiwork (

Mother Goes Viral After She Pulled Up on Daughter on Roblox, Told Her To Sit ‘Lasagna Out’ (Black Enterprise)

Our Patreon backers have helped us build this show for almost five years. You can help too with just $1 a month!

Photo by Kevin Spencer via Flickr/Creative Commons