What were some of the crazy fads of the 1960s?

By their very nature, fads are transient. They typically appear out of nowhere, have a collective effect on those who are affected, become almost obsessed with whatever it is, and then, almost in a hive mind-like fashion, simultaneously decide they have had enough and give it up. The never-ending cycle of fads includes fashion, hairstyles, toys, television shows, and music in the form of one-hit wonders or the predetermined trip of boy bands, with one becoming a phenomenon, losing popularity and being immediately replaced by another.

In the 1950s, there were sock hops, conical bras, drive-in theaters, coonskin caps (thanks to Davy Crocket), hula hoops, 3D films, The Mickey Mouse Club, bubble gum cigars (!), frisbees, and Pez (the candy dispenser with a cartoon character as a head). When you fast-forward to the 1970s, you are talking about waterbeds, mood rings, roller skates, pet rocks, disco, and CB radios. Each decade has its distinctive fads, which is especially true in the 1960s. The ’60s were a time of enormous social upheaval, and when it came to fads, well, many of them were unique to that age. The following article examines 1960s fads.

8-Track Tapes

This was supposed to boost recorded music in the 1960s and become the top delivery method. You can probably guess how things turned out if you remember how Betamax operated. The concept of four-channel sound was introduced in 1964 as a replacement for the previous stereo/two-channel format. Whatever the number of channels, the 8-track was eventually superseded in popularity by the cassette tape, which had existed before it. However, there were a few heydays when Ford began including 8-Track players in their 1966 and 1967 vehicles and individuals started having players in their homes and portable formats. But the romance ended by the middle of the 1970s.

Barbie Dolls

Given that it has been in existence for more than 60 years and is still in production, it might be inaccurate to refer to this brand of Mattel dolls as a craze. Barbie was first released in 1959, but her popularity skyrocketed in the 1960s. Ruth Handler came up with the idea after observing her daughter Barbara (hey, we are starting to wonder where the name of the line originated from) play with paper dolls and how she routinely assigned them adult jobs in pretend play. She was so motivated that she approached her husband, who also happened to be the co-founder of Mattel, and proposed the concept of an adult-bodied doll. He was first opposed to the idea, but he eventually accepted it and was astounded by its effectiveness. Along the way, there was some debate; it seems that not all parents were happy about the fact that, in contrast to all the other dolls on the market, Barbie had breasts. With several more clothing, accessories, and even a lover in the form of Ken, the doll would develop through time, providing fun for successive generations.

In case you don’t know, Ruth Handler is the co-founder of Mattel and is the wife of another co-founder named Elliot Handler. For more information on the Handler couple and how they founded Mattel, you can check out our article titled “Learn About Mattel the Pop Culture Toy Icon.”

Doo-Wop Music

The Moonglows, 1956

Doo-wop music, which originated in the 1940s in the Afro-American culture, was a vocally oriented rhythm and blues. This vocally harmonized pop music first emerged in the 1950s and gained widespread acceptance in the early 1960s. How could I possibly forget the Marcels’ 1961 smash single “Blue Moon”? Other well-known groups from the doo-wop era included The Coasters, Drifters, Platters, and Miracles.


On college campuses, teach-ins were meetings of students, professors, and other speakers that started as seminars but subsequently evolved into venues for protesting a particular institution of higher learning or governmental organization. A teach-in at the University of Michigan in May 1965 kicked off with a discussion on the draft for the Vietnam War. Later, it developed into the logistical strategy for occupying the institution. This kind of teach-in was widely used during the American engagement in the Vietnam War. The 1960s were a wildly intriguing, chaotic, and exhilarating period.

‘Batman’ TV Series-

This lighthearted Batman adaptation, which aired twice a week on ABC from 1966 to 1968, starred Adam West as the titular character, Burt Ward as Robin, and Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. There was also a staggering variety of antagonists, such as Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, Julie Newmar as Catwoman, Frank Gorshin as the Riddler, and Cesar Romero as the Joker. The audience immediately lost interest in this program since it became so popular so quickly after debuting or entering the Batcave. Although it essentially limped through its third and final season, many people still have positive memories of it.

Bean Bag Chair

In 1968, three Italian designers came up with the idea of the “Sacco” (also known as Bean) Bag Chair, which they thought would be anatomically correct because it would roughly conform to whatever object was plopped down on it, even if that object was a butt. Hippie nonconformist families that would appreciate how odd it was from the norm were the target market at first. From then, the audience expanded.

The Beatles

Even though The Beatles have been gone for a little over 50 years, their influence on culture continues to this day. However, when they first appeared in the 1960s, Beatlemania was in full swing. But it was everything about them, not just John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Kids were inspired by their mop-top look to either cut their hair in the same fashion or purchase Beatle Wigs; by their ankle-high boots (often referred to as “Beatle Boots”); and by the collarless jackets they wore for a while, which encouraged many youngsters to follow suit.  They have had an immeasurable influence on music and culture, and we happen to think it has improved us.


In 1954, the United States committed troops to Vietnam, and by the 1960s, hundreds of American soldiers had lost their lives in a conflict that was losing support daily. The anti-establishment, counterculture of America, the hippies, made “Make Love, Not War” their catchphrase. Hippies might be identified by their long hair, puka shell jewelry, ethnic-inspired clothing, dabbling in Eastern faiths, usage of terms like “groovy,” and use of the term “the Man” to refer to the unjust government. They were known to experiment with mind-altering substances (marijuana, mushrooms, LSD), and to hang out in neighborhoods like New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. The hippie movement gave rise to art, music, and a cultural discussion that persisted long into the twenty-first century.

Hippies, along with punks, also made Dr. Martens boots very popular in the 1960s. These particular boots are known for having a thick leather upper, air-padded soles, and a signature yellow stitching that binds the soles to the upper. If you want to learn more about these boots, you can read The Fascinating Origins of the Dr. Martens 1460 Boots.

T-shirts with tie dye

There was no more ‘psychedelia’ than the ancient craft of tie-dye, with its rainbow burst of whirling hues and striking patterns. One of the earliest techniques for modifying and decorating fabric is tie-dying. Simple logic dictates that dye can only permeate free fabric; if a section of fabric is held off by thread, pebbles, clothespins, or rubber bands, the dye cannot penetrate that area. You may leave that unaltered segment its natural color or you might dye the unaltered areas a different color to produce works of art. The hippies’ resurgence of antiquated ethnic crafts throughout the 1960s revived the art and gave tie-dye a fresh look. The tie-dye used by the hippies was not a delicate art; instead, they used many colors, stacking them one on top of the other to create vibrant bursts of color and bizarre visual experiences. With a little imagination, anything might be made, including hearts, peace signs, and bullseyes. Tie-dyeing evolved to become the ultimate era marker. When a new generation dug up the bizarre Dead Head shirts their parents wore as children, the 1980s came back to tie-dye. By transforming t-shirts, linens, socks, and other items into vibrant pinwheels of delight, parents passed on the expertise. Even when it was not a popular trend, holdovers from the 1960s and those looking to add a touch of psychedelia to their outfit continued to choose tie-dye. The possibilities are endless when it comes to tie-dying.

Minidresses with Go-Go Boots

By the time, the 1960s arrived, 70 million teens had been born during the post-World War II baby boom. The world of fashion underwent some alterations as a result of all those hormones. The poodle skirt was no longer worn. In the 1960s, skirts became much, much shorter. In the US, skirts and minidresses frequently reached four to five inches above the knee, but in the UK, they reached an astounding seven to eight inches above the knee. Boots became higher as skirts got shorter. The go-go boot, which frequently came in white patent leather and nearly reached the knee, was the most widely worn type of footwear. The Avengers on TV and singer Nancy Sinatra both contributed to the style’s popularity.


What better place to promote harmony, goodwill, and unrestricted love than a warm beach? Although the Polynesians had been surfing for millennia, everyone was able to pick up a board and hang ten once lightweight surfboards were widely accessible in the late 1950s. The craze had truly taken off by the early 1960s, and films like Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo contributed to the acceptance of surfing and beach culture.

Troll Dolls



Thomas Dam, the man behind the Dammit doll, is credited with its creation. In 1964, the dolls were turned into a business named Dam Things. In the United States, more than one million of these trolls were sold in that year. Because he could not afford to give his daughter a birthday present, he fashioned her a doll. The story of trolls, who lived in deep, dark forests and were said to bring luck to those who caught them, served as the inspiration for the doll. It appears that many people were capturing them at the time.


1967 was dubbed the year of the turtle, as in the turtleneck sweater, by Daily News Record magazine. favored by flower children and beatniks. At its height, the turtleneck was popularized by prominent figures including Steve McQueen, Sammy Davis Jr., Paul Newman, Senator Robert Kennedy, and Johnny Carson.

Smiley faces

Creator H.R. Ball began in 1963. He was employed by a marketing firm in Massachusetts when one of his clients requested that he find a solution to calm staff. He received only $45 for the drawing, which he never attempted to trademark. Since then, the Smiley Face has been featured on countless objects, including a US postage stamp.


With synthetic rubber that is incredibly tough, Norman Stingley conducted tests. Unintentionally, he created an amazing new toy. The material would bounce wildly when squeezed under great pressure. Zectron was the name of the chemical, whereas Superball was the name given to the ball. By 1965, more than 6 million of these ball-bouncing toys had been marketed. At their peak, the balls even made it inside the White House, when Cabinet member McGeorge Bundy distributed them to staff members.

Ouija Boards

The idea was initially sparked by the scene in the film “The Exorcist” where a young girl was possessed by a demon while using an Ouija board. A game that was previously seen as risky outsold the classic Monopoly in the late 1960s. The game was developed in the middle of the nineteenth century as a result of a spiritualism craze that swept across Europe and expanded to New York. It was thought that we might connect with the dead using an Ouija board.

Unfortunately, Ouija boards were simply just a fad that died down by the 1970s, and Monopoly would continue to sell more copies since Ouija boards aren’t as exciting and fun to play with. Monopoly’s decades of popularity can be attributed to its replay value, as it can be played multiple times, and the experiences of the players can vary for each game with friends or family members. To know more about this board game, check out The Fascinating Origins of the Monopoly Board Game.


In general, a commune is a grouping of like-minded people who choose to live together, frequently for a shared purpose. Given the nature of the 1960s, sharing things, money, and people became the norm throughout that period (if you know what we mean). The majority of the individuals living in these communes had frequently essentially abandoned society and had nowhere else to go.

Easy-Bake Oven

The Easy-Bake Oven, which Kenner first offered in 1963, became a huge success. Though we cannot testify whether or not they truly tasted like cake, it was an actual working oven (of a smaller size, of course) that utilized two lightbulbs as a heating source to take a mixture of cake mix and water and bake it. A million units were sold throughout its first year of manufacturing. The Easy-Bake Oven has been made despite Hasbro’s acquisition of Kenner, yet it was highly innovative at the time.

Besides Kenner, Hasbro also acquired another popular toy company called Playskool in the 1980s. To know more about Playskool and its subsequent acquisition by Hasbro, you can check out our article titled “Learn About Playskool the Pop Culture Toy Icon.

Beehive Hair

The most recognizable 1960s hairstyle may be achieved with enough time, hairspray, and tease. However, in reality, many of the most dazzling celebrities relied on half-wigs and other support personnel.


Fads are short-lived trends that can include fashion, music, and toys. The 1960s had its distinctive fads, such as 8-Track Tapes, Barbie Dolls, Doo-Wop Music, Teach-Ins, and the Batman TV series. While certain fads like the Barbie Dolls remain popular today, most fads are ephemeral and eventually fade away.