Frisbee: The Definitive Flying Disc

Walter Frederick Morrison promoting his Pluto Platters, forerunner of the Frisbee.
(Photo via the Connecticut State Library via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1957, inventor Fred Morrison sold the rights to his flying disc to the Wham-O company.

Here are some things you may not have known about the Frisbee.

Morrison said the idea came to him while he and his future wife, Lucille, were tossing a cake pan back and forth on a beach in 1938. Another person offered them 25 cents for the pan. As the pan cost just 5 cents, Morrison figured there might be a business opportunity there.

Following World War II, Morrison designed a more aerodynamically stable disc he called the Whirlo-Way. In 1948, he and a business partner began selling the discs at fairs and shows. In 1955, he designed a new model, called the Pluto Platter, which is the design he sold to Wham-O.

A few months after buying the design, the company decided to change the name to Frisbee, after discovering that’s what college students in the Northeast called the Pluto Platter. The term Frisbee was derived from the Frisbie Pie Company, whose empty pie tins were tossed around the Yale University campus.

Morrison described the name as “a horror. Terrible.”

In 1964, the Frisbee was redesigned to increase the thickness of the rim, which made it much more controllable. After the redesign, sales of the disc soared.

A class of sports was invented using the Frisbee, including Frisbee Golf and Ultimate Frisbee, among others.

Although people use the name generically, the name Frisbee remains a trademark of the Wham-O company. The company was known for mailing reminder letters to newspaper writers who didn’t capitalize the name, along with a new Frisbee.

The year after Wham-O bought the rights to the Frisbee, they introduced the Hula Hoop. The company introduced the Slip ’N’ Slide in 1961, followed by the Super Ball in 1965. According to Lamar Hunt, the late owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Super Ball’s name was the inspiration for the name of the Super Bowl.

The company also marketed Silly String, the Hacky Sack and the Boogie Board.

Our question: What type of action stabilizes a Frisbee in flight?

Today is World Freedom Day in Taiwan and South Korea, and Bounty Day in the Pitcairn Islands.

It’s unofficially National Pie Day, Measure Your Feet Day, and National Handwriting Day.

It’s the birthday of U.S. Founding Father John Hancock, who was born in 1737; painter Edouard Manet, who was born in 1832; and Princess Caroline of Monaco, who turns 60.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1972, the top song in the U.S. was “American Pie” by Don McLean.

The No. 1 movie was “The Cowboys,” while the novel “Wheels” by Arthur Hailey topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question: In the song “American Pie,” who is referred to as “The Jester”?

Submit your answer at and we’ll add the name of the person with the first correct answer to our winner’s wall … at We’ll have the correct answer on Friday’s episode.


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