The Hula Hoop

In November 2019, an Australian woman broke a world record by spinning which children's toy for a continuous 100 hours?

And the answer: hula hoop.

Photo courtesy: Robert J. Smith / Time Life Pictures. 

Over four days, a woman named Jenny Doan spun a hula hoop around her waist for a continuous 100 hours, achieving a Guinness World Record for "Longest marathon hula hooping." While toy companies may encourage the idea that they invented the hula hoop in the 1950s, the hoops have been around for millennia.

Hoops, in their various forms, have been a part of human history since as early as 3000 BCE. Egyptians fashioned hoops out of reeds and rattan to swing and push on the ground; Greeks' scrap metal hoops were perfect for easy exercise and play; Eskimo children's hoops were sent rolling before aiming a pole at it to practice harpooning skills. In some First Nation and Native American tribes, specifically the Lakota, hoops held a greater symbolic significance: they served as a representation of the Circle of Life, and were often engaged in ceremonies as storytelling and dance props.

In this sense, hula hoops as we know them today are simply the trademarked version of a popular cultural staple predating any hollow, plastic fad. In the mid-20th century, two American toy manufacturers were drawn to the attention given to hoops used by Australian schoolchildren, and created the plastic version almost exclusively known today. The toy was an instant hit, and sold over 25 million hoops in the first four months of production.

Even today, the toy finds its way back into the spotlight. Hula hooping has been a popular world-record seeking endeavor – while Jenny Doan was successful in her longest consecutive hours hooping, others such as Marawa Ibrahim of Los Angeles takes the cake for the most hoops spun simultaneously.

Check out Ibrahim's hooping world record attempt below.


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