Originally made from dried grapevines and used in children's games for throwing and rolling down hills, the hula-hoop originated all the way back to around 1000 BC. Although used mainly for the simple game of hoop rolling, adults and children alike have enjoyed the hula-hoop for centuries. Surprisingly however, the hula-hoop was not invented just once, but rater various nations across the world independently created and used the hula-hoop for entertainment purposes.
However, not all hula-hoop games were played for fun and entertainment. Sometimes these hoops were used for military and battle practice as well. Between 800-1500 AD, many Native American tribes used the hoops as moving targets in order to practice throwing spears and other weapons. Even the British army had a game named "kill the hoop", in which soldiers threw spears at a wooden or metal hoop. However, this practice is not common today.
The more modern version of the hula-hoop, which is spun around the waist, was first invented in the 1950s. A plastic hoop created by California's Wham-O toy company sold nearly 100 million hula-hoops by 1960. This created what was known as the "hula hoop craze" during the 1950s. During this time events like hula-hooping competitions were common throughout close-knit communities.
Throughout the United States, the hula-hoop fad was large and diverse, but by 1980 the use of hula-hoops began rapidly fading. This was not the case, however, in China or Russia, where circuses and gymnasts took up hula hooping as an integral part of their performances.
Eventually, the hula-hoop was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1999, signifying its integral place within the entertainment and children's toy industries. Today, hula hooping is still as common among children as it was during the ancient times. However methodical and structural advances have allowed for the hula-hoop's introduction into a variety of modern entertainment venues for adults as well.