02/19/2014 07:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

These 8 Facts About Smiley Faces Will Perk You Up During This Lousy Winter

Smiley faces are all around us.

We use them in our everyday conversations as a way to express emotion without having to say anything. They're displayed on T-shirts, posters and even candy. But have you ever wondered where the happy symbol originated and how it became such a common image in popular culture?

Here are eight facts about smiley faces to lift your spirits.

1. The smiley face made its first appearance in an advertisement for the film "Lili," that ran in the New York Herald Tribune in 1953, according to


2. A decade later, in 1963, a commercial artist named Harvey Ball was hired to design a smiley face to make employees at the State Mutual Life Assurance Company a little happier, according to World Smile Day. In about 10 minutes, Ball drew two dots and a smile into a yellow circle and the smiley face was born. The company produced posters and buttons with the intention of brightening up their employee's moods, not realizing this motivational image would become a happy staple in popular culture.


3. Ball only received $45 for his design, according to The New York Times. He never applied for a trademark or copyright.

harvey ball smiley

4. Bernard and Murray Spain drew up the smiley face in 1970, added the words "Have A Happy Day" and bought the legal rights to the image and the words, according to Business Insider.

happy day

5. In 1971, more than 50 million smiley face buttons were sold, according to the Associated Press.

smiley buttons

6. The smiley face even made an appearance in the 1994 hit "Forest Gump."

7. The U.S. Postal Service created a smiley face stamp in 1999.

smiley stamps

8. As technology's progressed, so has the smiley face.

This is what the many smiley faces look like on an iPhone in 2014:


The smiley face has even made its way to Facebook:

fb emojis

Have a happy day!



What Makes You Smile? Chalk Mural