The age of the Baby Boomer generation, the 1950s, brought memorable fashion statements as well as a new era of culture and entertainment. Some of the trends never resurfaced, while others never went away. Several are true hallmarks of life in the '50s.
Poodle skirts were all the rage. They allowed girls the freedom to dance without restriction to that new rock ‘n’ roll music that also hit the scene. Poodle skirts came in all kinds of colors and reached just below the knee. They were often made of felt and got their name because the original versions were adorned with images of a poodles. Their crinoline net underlining provided a swish with which the poodle skirt will forever be associated. To this day, it’s hard to think of the '50s without thinking of the poodle skirt, a fad that defined the decade.
Invented in 1957 and then licensed to Wham-O in 1958, the hula-hoop toy took its name from the Hawaiian Hula dance because using a hula-hoop seemed to imitate it. It had sales up to $25 million in just two months, and eventually reached nearly 100 million orders worldwide. Hula-hoops were not enjoyed in every country. Japan banned them because the nature of their movement seemed too provocative. Still, they remained popular until the late '70s and have enjoyed resurgence in popularity in recent years.
A booming pos-World War II economy finally allowed women to enter the workforce in record numbers. Since women couldn’t always be home cooking for the family anymore, it’s no wonder that easy, processed foods became a quick fad. The most notorious was the TV dinner, a Swanson product that arrived in supermarkets in 1953. TV dinners were portioned trays with separate sections for the different parts of the meal, typically meat, potatoes, and a vegetable. All you had to do was pop them in the oven for 30 minutes, peel back the foil, and you were in business. Afterward, you’d throw away the disposable tray, leaving no dishes to wash. TV dinners are still around today, though now they’re microwave-friendly, making them even more convenient than they used to be.
The '50s brought television into people’s homes, which worried film industry executives. They had to find a way to keep people coming to the theaters, and 3-D movies were just the thing. Although 3-D movies had been around since the 1920s, their popularity did not begin until the ‘50s with the film “Bwana Devil” in 1952. Theaters issued moviegoers 3-D glasses, which provided the 3-D effect. Experts thought 3-D movies would skyrocket, but that wasn’t what happened. However, some big titles were filmed in 3-D, including “Kiss Me Kate” and “Dial M for Murder,” but the standard 2-D versions still had them beat.
As a result, the trend didn’t outlast the '50s — until recently. Today, in the era of the superhero-movie craze, most major modern blockbusters are released in high-tech 3-D versions that generate serious cash.
Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap
The Walt Disney miniseries “Davy Crockett” came out in 1964. The protagonist, Davy Crockett, was a 19th century American frontiersman and a hero who wore an iconic coonskin cap. Little did Disney know that the cap would bring them $100 million in sales as everyone and their mother wanted one of their very own. To this day, those coonskin caps are still associated with the wild frontier of early America.
Outdated but not forgotten
Whether you were alive in the '50s or not, you’re probably aware of these fabulous fads of that unforgettable era. While most of them weren’t timeless trends that outlasted the decade, they have left their mark on history.