Tags: gary dahl | dies | pet rock | inventor

Gary Dahl, Inventor of the Pet Rock Gag Gift, Dies at 78

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Apr 2015 11:25 AM

Gary Dahl, the California copyrighter who turned the Pet Rock into a million dollar gag gift business in the 1970s, died in Oregon on March 23. He was 78.

Dahl, who lived in Jacksonville, Oregon, was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to his wife Marguerite Dahl.

According to USA Today, he was working an advertising executive in Los Gatos, California, in 1975 when he came up with the idea for the Pet Rock after listening to others complain about their own pets.

The pet rock parodied living pets like dogs and cats, helped along with a 34-page guide that read, "Your Pet Rock will be a devoted friend and companion for many years to come. Rocks enjoy a rather long life span so the two of you will never have to part — at least on your Pet Rock's account."

It was simple and cheap to find the rocks, The New York Times reported. Dahl picked them up on a Mexican beach for a 1 cent each and, after dressing them up and putting them in a cardboard box, then turned around and sold 1.5 million of them for $4 each.

The Washington Post said Dahl tried to follow his Pet Rock success by opening the Carry Nations Saloon in Los Gatos.

"Dahl got rich, got cocky, had a damn good time, opened a bar, bought a big house, drank too much," The Post said, "sold his bar, dreamed up a few clever but cataclysmic marketing flops, took up golf, got a real job, sued, got sued, felt betrayed."

The Pet Rock fad quickly dried up, but Dahl would later write "Advertising for Dummies," which published its second edition in 2007.

USA Today reported the Dahl won grand prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for dreadful prose in 2000. The entry included the line, "The heather-encrusted Headlands, veiled in fog as thick as smoke in a crowded pub, hunched precariously over the moors, their rocky elbows slipping off land's end, their bulbous, craggy noses thrust into the thick foam of the North Sea like bearded old men falling asleep in their pints."

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Gary Dahl, the California copyrighter who turned the Pet Rock into a million dollar gag gift business in the 1970s, died in Oregon on March 23. He was 78.
gary dahl, dies, pet rock, inventor
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2015-25-01
Wednesday, 01 Apr 2015 11:25 AM
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