The Most Popular Christmas Toy The Year You Were Born

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 The Most Popular Christmas Toy The Year You Were Born


While at the time it was watched daily by millions of rapt children and boasted a cast full of extremely popular Muppets, Sesame Street was never intended to be a cash cow. After all, it started way back in 1969 as an educational TV show, aimed at inner-city kids, airing on commercial-free public TV of all places. 



Perhaps that noble, long-ago origin in the world of non-profits is how the toy industry underestimated the massive demand in 1996 for Tickle Me Elmo, a talking, vibrating doll based on the red, furry, childlike Muppet from Sesame Street. Tyco Toys launched Tickle Me Elmo, a $30 toy, which laughed and quaked upon a tickling, in July 1996, planning to manufacture and sell about 400,000. That’s a lot of dolls, but they were selling out so fast that the company ramped up production, shipping a million Tickle Me Elmos to toy store in time for Christmas, which still wasn’t enough for everyone that wanted one. Stores ran out of them as quickly as they got shipments, with desperate parents lined up for hours to  muscle each other out of the way to grab one of these must-have Christmas treasures.