What does it take to make a hit product? If past fads are any indication, it takes a little bit of everything: a dash of inspiration, the swell of a shopping frenzy during the holiday season and perhaps some luck.
A product's sudden success, and its name's entrance into the cultural lexicon, is far from an exact, predictable science. Take, for example, a blanket with sleeves that was ridiculed by late night hosts and the Internet community at large in the Fall of 2008. That same product soon blew up with massive sales. Who could have thought that the Snuggie, made by Allstar Products Group of Hawhtrone, N.Y., would go on to become a national relaxation sensation?
From children's toys to creative fashion items, one hit product can turn a company around -- and potentially ensure that the creative force behind it will never have to work another day in his or her life.
Check out some of the product fads of years past in the slideshow below:
<b>The Fad:</b> These shape-shifting silicon wristbands rose rapidly to popularity in 2010. Creator Robert Croak noted that his business grew tenfold within six months, as the company's shipments to retailers skyrocketed from <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18563_162-6481251.html" target="_hplink">20 boxes a week to 1,500</a>. That's millions of bracelets a week. <b>Made By:</b> BCP Imports (Toledo, Ohio)
<b>The Fad:</b> When it was introduced in 2008, the Snuggie -- a blanket with sleeves -- <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/business/media/22adco.html/" target="_hplink">endured ridicule</a> from Jay Leno, Ellen Degeneres and the YouTube community at large. But for the Snuggie, no press was bad press, and the product took off during the 2008 holiday season. By the end of 2010, <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/consumer&id=7860301" target="_hplink">25 million Snuggies had been sold</a>, one for about every 12 residents of the United States. <b>Made By:</b> Allstar Products Group (Hawthorne, NY)
Gogo's Crazy Bones
<b>The Fad:</b> These mini figurines and the game that accompanies them enjoyed a surge in sales in the late 1990s. Between 1998-2000 over <a href="http://www.kidsturncentral.com/topics/toys/tn021209c.htm" target="_hplink">31.5 million packages</a> of the toys were sold. Another 23 million figurines were sold in the UK and Spain after a relaunch in March 2008. <b>Made By:</b> Catalan company Magic Box Int, part of Martomagic
<b>The Fad:</b> These collectible 2-inch figurines commonly sold in vending machines have seen years of success, despite <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/1999/may/24/news/mn-40448" target="_hplink">some saying that they promote negative cultural stereotypes</a>. To date, <a href="http://www.homiesphonecards.com/About.html" target="_hplink">over 120 million Homies have been sold</a>. <b>Made By:</b> Artist David Gonzalez
<b>The Fad:</b> After its introduction in 1987, Scott Stillinger's rubberband ball hybrid became a must-have hit during the 1988 holiday season. After moving 50 million Koosh balls, <a href="http://money.ca.msn.com/savings-debt/gallery/gallery.aspx?cp-documentid=23389935&page=2" target="_hplink">Stillinger sold his company OddzOn to Russ Berrie and Company Inc.</a>, which eventually sold for more than $100 million units in 1997. Toy manufacturer Hasbro now handles Koosh ball production. <b>Made By:</b> OddzOn Products, Inc. (Napa, California)
<b>The Fad:</b> During the 1998 holiday season, the Furby -- the endearing, yet creepy talking furry friend -- was selling out everywhere. Riding its popularity through the late '90s, 40 million Furbies would end up in homes around the world. Hasbro is currently planning a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/furby-makes-high-tech-comeback/story?id=16743565#.UDKvkNBSTDU" target="_hplink">high-tech comeback for the Furby</a> later this year. <b>Made By:</b> Tiger Electronics (Vernon Hills, Illinois) before being taken over by Hasboro
<b>The Fad:</b> Japanese designers <a href="http://www.inquirelive.co.uk/node/4042" target="_hplink">released the Tamagotchi in 1996</a>. The egg-shaped handheld device and keychain let owners feed and care for a digital pet. The simple, addictive game would eventually gain popularity with American kids. More than <a href="http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/03/tamagotchi-health/" target="_hplink">70 million Tamagotchi's</a> have been sold worldwide. <b>Made By:</b> Akihiro Yokoi of WiZ and Aki Maita of Bandai (Japan)
Slap Wraps Slap Bracelets
<b>The Fad:</b> Between <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1990/10/30/us/us-consumer-panel-warns-of-injury-by-slap-bracelets.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">controversy that labeled it a weapon</a> and its popularity as a fashion item, Slap Wrap bracelets were everywhere in the '90s. In its first year of release in 1990, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1990/10/27/business/turning-profits-hand-over-wrist.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm" target="_hplink">Slap Wrap would bring in $15 million</a> -- $26 million in today's dollars -- in revenue. They're still seen in stores everywhere, with companies producing knock-offs and imitations. <b>Made By:</b> Stuart Anders and Main Street Toy Company (Franklin, Tennessee)
<b>The Fad:</b> <em><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_zwx6OXjMc&feature=player_embedded" target="_hplink">Chi-chi-chi-chia!</a></em> More than just a catchy jingle, the Chia Pet craze began in 1977. The clay figures are coated with seeds of a Mexican herb that when watered sprout green fur. <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/object-chiapet-200712.html" target="_hplink">Up to 500,000 Chia "pets" are sold every single year.</a> <b>Made By:</b> Joseph Enterprises (San Francisco)
Baby On Board Bumper Stickers
<b>The Fad:</b> Inspired by a terrifying car ride Michael Lerner had in Boston with his 18-month-old nephew in 1984, "Baby On Board" bumper stickers began selling <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703916004576271282489578512.html" target="_hplink">500,000 stickers per month</a> within the product's first nine months, and brought deals with Toys 'R' Us, Wal-Mart and Kmart. By 1999, with sales at $158 million, Lerner would eventually sell the Safety 1st company. <b>Made By:</b> Michael Lerner and Safety 1st (Boston), acquired by Canadian company Dorel Industries Inc. in June 2000
<b>The Fad:</b> Invented by Hungarian professor Erno Rubik in 1974, the brain-twisting toy known as the Rubik's Cube has endured as an immensely popular product. Considered by some to be the <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/rubiks-cube-25-years-on-crazy-toys-crazy-times-461768.html" target="_hplink">best selling toy of all time</a>, it is estimated that as of January 2009, <a href="http://www.rubiks.com/i/company/media_library/pdf/Rubiks Fast Cube Facts February 2010.pdf" target="_hplink">350 million Rubik's Cubes had been sold worldwide</a>. <b>Made By:</b> Erno Rubik, sold to Ideal Toy Company in 1980
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