Today’s the birthday of one of the great toys of our time, the Frisbee, though if the man who put that toy into millions of hands had his way, it would’ve been called the Pluto Platter.

His name was Fred Morrison, and his idea came when he was 17.

At a picnic, he and friends were tossing the lid of a popcorn tin to each other for fun.

They switched to a metal pie tin, which flew better, and started playing the game regularly at the beach.

One day, someone watched them play and offered to buy the five-cent pie tin for a quarter.

Morrison and his girlfriend, Lu, started selling the metal tins as toys, and later, Morrison and a business partner Warren Franscioni, switched to plastic.

By 1950, it was Fred and Lu selling what they called the Pluto Platter, to take advantage of the UFO craze.

Fred Morrison raised the center of the round disks, to make them fly better. Lu’s written instructions were on the flipside.

Fred named the company Wham-O, and while the Pluto Platter sold well, the company eventually re-named the flying discs Frisbees.

Why? Because of a story in Bridgeport, Connecticut, home to the Frisbie Pie Company. Note the difference in spelling between Frisbie the piemaker and Frisbee the toy.

The pies were baked in pie tins, and after the pies were eaten, some local college students decided to toss the tins back and forth to each other, shouting “Frisbie!”

The New York Times reported that Morrison was horrified by the name change and called the name Frisbee “horrible,” though with some two hundred million discs sold worldwide over the years, maybe a name change wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.

It’s National Pie Day, and one way to celebrate is to head to Rockland, Maine.

Starting tomorrow it’s the 16th Annual Pies on Parade Gala!

There will be pies upon pies upon pies at local restaurants, cafes and other businesses in Rockland, which Food Network called “Pie Town USA.”

If you think all that pie might weigh you down, you’re probably right. That’s why they have a special trolley to take pie tasters from place to place.

Fred Morrison, Creator of a Popular Flying Plate, Dies at 90 (New York Times)

16th Annual Pies on Parade Gala

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Photo by nonrev via Flickr/Creative Commons