Father of ‘pet rock’ dies
Inventor of popular 70s craze dies regretting tongue-in-cheek creation.
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US: Gary Ross Dahl, inventor of the insanely popular 70s craze, the Pet Rock, has died at the age of 78 in Oregon, US, according to the Huffington Post.

In case you weren’t there to share in the madness, Dahl came up with the idea for packaging small, smooth stones in a box with a tongue-in-cheek instruction manual for “care”. The Pet Rock captured the imaginations of a generation- he reportedly sold 1.5 million of the quirky pebbles at $US4 each.

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"Mr Dahl, you should see my invention, the Pet... Stick"

Although the advertising executive said at the time that the craze was fun, it became something of a millstone around his neck as people with often awful ideas for get-rich-quick schemes approached him for advice. This led to him refusing interviews because of the “wackos” and musing that perhaps his life would have been simpler had he never put his pets on the market.

Dahl’s creation was one of the first to make millions off an admittedly silly idea, but was it even original? He took a concept that has been going for decades in pre-schools and made it available to a bigger market.

Entrepreneurs and crazy crazes

Kids in schools are no longer just expected to learn facts and formulas, the school curriculum also expects children to be able to develop business concepts and strategies. In local schools, “entrepreneur’s days” are held every year; children have to come up with an idea for selling or raffling something and the child that makes the most is deemed the most successful. Some schools have a “grow your R10” plan where the child must take R10 and use it to invest in something which will make more money.

There’s nothing wrong with teaching kids how to think in financial concepts- indeed, it’s a skill they’ll use forever, but there’s another side to society which seems to counteract entrepreneurial thinking, the carrot of getting rich quickly.

Massive prizes are offered on reality TV shows, huge salaries ore offered within certain professional sectors and even quasi-gambling methods are all very tempting for children. Your child could be the next person to make a million bucks selling their old Pokémon cards on eBay, or they could be the next grown-up kid wondering why their mom threw the cards in the trash ten years ago.

Even within one generation parents will see collectable cards, marbles, yo-yos and other crazes come and go (and then return), and children will dutifully commit their time and pocket money to these. These crazes tend to cost money rather than create it, so financial sense would help your child to learn about how to cope with their own money (which is, ultimately, yours!).

But you never know… Maybe your child could be the inventor of something as simple and ingenious as the Pet Rock. Maybe.

What’s the craziest craze your kids have been caught up in?

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