Toy store proprietor and former advertising copywriter Paul Hodgson came up with the name Silly Putty off the top of his head while playing with the pink polymer.
In the 1940s, when the United States War Production Board asked General Electric to synthesize a cheap substitute for rubber, James Wright, a company engineer assigned to the project in New Haven, Connecticut, developed a pliant compound dubbed "nutty putty" with no real advantages over synthetic rubber.
In 1949, Paul Hodgson, a former advertising copywriter running a New Haven toy store, happened to witness a demonstration of the "nutty putty" at a party. He bought 21 pounds of the putty for $147, hired a Yale student to separate it into half-ounce balls, and marketed the putty inside colored plastic eggs as Silly Putty. When it outsold every other item in his store, Hodgson mass produced Silly Putty as "the toy with one moving part," selling up to 300 eggs a day.
The New Yorker featured a short piece on Silly Putty in "Talk of the Town," launching an overnight novelty in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1961, Silly Putty attracted hundreds of Russians to the United States Plastics Expo in Moscow.
The astronauts on Apollo 8 played with Silly Putty during their flight and used it to keep tools from floating around in zero gravity.
In 1981, the Columbus Zoo used Silly Putty to take hand and footprints of gorillas for educational purposes.
Geology and Astronomy professors often use Silly Putty to demonstrate the gradual movement of large masses of Earth.
Non-smoking groups recommend Silly Putty to their members to give their hands something to do.
Silly Putty was originally shipped in egg cartons purchased from the Connecticut Cooperative Poultry Association.
Americans buy more than two million eggs of Silly Putty every year.
While the average fad lasts six months, demand for Silly Putty has surpassed sixty years.
Silly Putty comes in classic, glow-in-the-dark, glitter, and four hot fluorescent colors.