Take a moment and think back to your childhood. What was the one toy you desperately wanted but never received? Maybe you remember flipping through a catalog and circling it every year as part of a wish list. Maybe the commercial’s jingle regularly got stuck in your head. Perhaps the kids down the street had the toy and you steamed with jealousy.
For me, that toy was the Mouse Trap board game. One of my friends owned it and I insisted that we play it every time I went over to her house – so much so that eventually she refused to play it with me! I don’t even remember how to play the game or if we ever did. Usually I was content to just set the mouse trap up and let the little silver ball loose. I think if I’d owned it myself, I would have spent hours alone with it. I wouldn’t have even needed a second person to play the game with!
I asked my colleagues here at the History Center what toy they really wanted but never received. Here are their answers:
I always wanted an Easy Bake Oven. One of my best friends had one and I only got to use it once and that was upsetting because I really wanted to just bake all these magical things. Unfortunately, I think that my parents didn’t buy it for me because they knew it was not quite the best value for the cost. Either that or they didn’t want to be forced to eat what I made.
– Katelyn Lloyd, Accounts Payable Coordinator
For years, a Power Wheels Barbie Jeep was at the top of my Christmas list. Those commercials of girls just my age zipping around their yards and driveways in a battery-powered jeep got me hook, line, and sinker. Every time I discovered the Barbie Jeep-sized dearth under the tree, my mom always sagely commiserated with me. That Easy-Bake Oven was never quite in her grasp growing up either. At some point, my best friend and her two sisters came into possession of a Barbie Jeep. Together with their go-kart, these two kid-sized vehicles made for the stuff of great races around the yard. Things were great until I smashed the go-kart into a tree, rendering it inoperable for quite some time. Maybe my mom had it right when she kept that treasured toy safe from reality and confined it to my imagination.
– Sierra Green, Archivist, Detre Library & Archives
Being the youngest of four kids (and the youngest of an entire stable of cousins), I never had a lot of new toys – pretty much everything was a hand-me-down. My best friend across the street was also the youngest but was fortunate to have not one, but two Big Wheels. One was the deluxe model, complete with a menacing blue and black paint job, streamers on the handlebars, and a working hand brake, while the other model was a miniature Big Wheel with a lame red and yellow paint job and no hand brake – dragging your tennis shoes was the only way to stop. Since he owned both, of course he always raced around the neighborhood with the deluxe model while I was forced to try to catch up with the pint-sized version. I was never fortunate enough to own my own Big Wheel, but I always wanted one – imagine how fast I could go!
– Ned Schano, Director of Communications
I always wanted Hungry Hungry Hippos because my older cousins had it and I would play it with them at their house growing up. I am an only child, so I didn’t have too many multi-player games. I suspect my mom didn’t want to get it for me because it was loud and I’m sure she didn’t want to pick up missing marbles.
– Melissa E. Marinaro, Curator, Italian American Program
These might not necessarily be a toy but I would have liked to have had a pair of Moon Shoes. They were essentially little trampolines you could strap on to your shoes to jump around. Moon Shoes were heavily advertised on the Nickelodeon channel when I was a kid in the 1990s and the commercial made them look super exciting with lots of kids jumping around everywhere. I never got the shoes as a gift and no one I knew ever had a pair for me to try out either so I never got to experience them. One of my neighbors did have a real trampoline in their yard that I got to use, so I think that made up for not having the Moon Shoes.
– Liz Simpson, Assistant Editor / Assistant Registrar
What toy do you wish you had growing up? Leave a comment and share your story with us.
Visit the Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s exhibition at the History Center now through May 31.
Sarah Reck is the Senior Digital Marketing Manager at the Heinz History Center.