11 popular products turning 50 years old in 2022
Happy birthday to video games, McMuffins, Jet Skis and Boggle!
The Rock, Shaq, Eminem, Ben Affleck, Gwenyth Paltrow and Jenny McCarthy are all celebrating the big 5-0 in 2022. Hard to believe.
But enough about Gen-X celebrities. Let's talk about some stuff. Most of the products on this list might strike you as surprisingly young. It was a big year for innovation — an entire medium of popular entertainment was introduced. Not to mention some fast-food favorites.
Here are some cultural staples that launched in 1972.
1. Atari's Pong
Atari, Inc. was founded in 1972 and the electronic gaming company wasted no time in making history. The brilliantly simplistic arcade cabinet Pong, a minimalist representation of ping pong, hit parlours months later, around Thanksgiving. Hankering for some classic arcade action? You can play official vintage versions of Atari's Asteroids, Centipede and Missle Command in the MeTV Arcade!
It boggles the mind that Boggle is as old as video gaming, doesn't it? Har har. See what we did there? The sound of those letter cubes rattling around in their plastic cap is a nostalgia trigger for us. How much sand is in the standard Boggle hourglass? Three minutes.
Image: Parker Brothers / Hasbro
3. Bottle Caps
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory hit theaters in 1971, shifting the focus from the titular "Charlie" of the Roald Dahl novel to the madcap candymaker. Tie-in candy was introduced at the same time, perhaps in the first major movie marketing push of the decade. Breaker Confections of Chicago acquired the rights and created the "Willy Wonka Candy Company," eventually changing to that name in 1980.
Image: Ferrera Pan via Waffle Whiffer / Flickr
4. Canfield's Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda
Our moms kept six-packs of this in the pantry. It tasted like liquid fizzy Tootsie Rolls to our tongue.
5. Honda Civic
Honda was still pretty new to the car game, having been primarily a motorcycle manufacturer until the late 1960s. The Civic changed that. The compact cutie cruised to success thanks to the oil crisis — the thing got great mileage.
6. Jet Ski
Jet Ski is a proper noun, like Kleenex, Band-Aid and Dumpster. (Yes, Dumpster is a brand name.) Now it's generic trademark used for any kind of personal watercraft. But the Sea-Doo beat Kawasaki to the waves by four years. Still, Kawasaki had the last laugh, because we call these babies "jet skis" now no matter who makes 'em.
7. Magnavox Odyssey
Magnavox, not Atari, sold the first-ever home video game console. Pong was a cabinet for arcades, pinball joints, and pizza parlors. The Odyssey now gets overshadowed by the 2600, but give the pioneer its due. It also had a very strange controller, which looked like a tiny sewing machine. It's the trapezoidal box with the knobs on the side, kids. Game "cards" (cartridges, really) held multiple games — you can see the original six in this ad — including Tennis, Football and Haunted House.
Mmm… breakfast. A Santa Barbara McDonald's franchise had the bright idea to get into breakfast sandwiches. Here's something largely forgotten about that early McMuffin — it was served open-faced with a side of strawberry jelly. Yep, the sweet and salty combo was genius (if you ask us — try it) but never caught on.
9. Mr. Pibb
Coca-Cola fired a shot at Dr. Pepper in 1972 with its Peppo, a "pepper type soda," so said the can. In an even bolder move, Coke test-marketed Peppo in Texas, the home turf of Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper did not take it lightly, filing a lawsuit about the "Peppo" name. That's why the moniker was changed to Mr. Pibb.
The Lousiana in "Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen" is no lie — the first Popeyes opened in suburban New Orleans. The joint's original name was Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken. And here's a goofy, fun fact — "Popeyes" is not named after the cartoon "Sailor Man." Nope, the fried chicken chain took its name from Popeye Doyle, Gene Hackman's character in 1971's The French Connection. Really!
11. Stove Top Stuffing
"Test your husband," the ad dared. Stove Top was sold as a substitute for potatoes. According to that ad, 62% of husbands prefered the stuffing with their chicken. Which would you rather have? Correct answer: both.
Image: General Foods / Kraft