Five Things You Didn't Know About The Frisbee

On January 23, 1957, the Wham-O toy company produced their aerodynamic flying disks that would soon become known as the Frisbee. Here are five interesting things about the Frisbee that you probably didn't know.


Ivy League College Kids Got the Ball Rolling With Frisbees The early origins of Frisbee tossing began in the 1920s when, for fun, students at Ivy League colleges began to toss around the empty tins of the pies and cookies that were delivered to their schools by the Frisbie Baking Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

The Name "Frisbee" Began As The Catch-Phrase For An Incoming Toss The college students who embarked in their new-found game would yell "Frisbie!", the name of the baking company, to alert the catcher of an incoming toss. The spelling of the name of the now-classic game has since been slightly modified to a double "e" at the end rather than the original "ie," as was the name of the Connecticut-based baking company.


The Son of The Sealed Beam Headlight Inventor Created the Plastic Version of The Frisbee The game with flying tins captured the attention of Walter Frederick Morrison, the son of the inventor of the sealed beam headlight for automobiles. In 1948, Morrison took his interest in the Frisbee and combined it with his interest in aviation and plastic to create what we now know as the modern plastic Frisbee. His plastic version of the disc was originally carved out of a block of "Tenite," a type of cellulosic thermoplastic material that he used to form his flying disc.

Toy Company Wham-O Eventually Bought the Rights to The Frisbee Invention In 1955, nearly a decade after he came up with the plastic version of the Frisbee, Morrison sold the invention to Wham-O, an American toy company. Two years later, Wham-O introduced it to the public as the "Pluto Platter." The name was in reference to the dwarf planet Pluto—Americans were highly captivated with UFOs at the time, and the disc resembled images of flying saucers. A year later, Wham-O altered the toy and introduced it to the public as the "Frisbee." It was an instant hit and continues to be a popular game. And while several other toy manufacturers make plastic flying discs, only Wham-O makes the authentic "Frisbee."

$400,000 Was Spent By the US Navy to Study the Frisbee's Motion In 1968, the US Navy spent approximately $400,000 to study the Frisbee's motion and ability to remain suspended in the air. They used wind tunnels to measure the Frisbee's lift. Both spinning and non-spinning tests in wind tunnels were conducted to quantify the impact of spin on aerodynamic forces. Since then, many other wind tunnel studies have been conducted using the Frisbee.