History / News

Never a Dahl moment

Dahl

Dahl at the height of the 1975 craze for pet rocks.

So farewell then, Gary Dahl (1936-2015)

Gary Ross Dahl, who died on March 23, was an advertising copywriter and advertising agency owner who became a millionaire on the strength of a six-month fad dating from 1975.  Those of us who remember that year, especially if we happen to be geologists, will recall the craze which he invented after hearing his friends complaining about their pets – the ‘Pet Rock’.

Thus began a business idea – selling small rocks in perforated boxes, complete with a 32-page care and training manual (the real product).

The pet rock, a smooth beach pebble, came on a bed of straw, complete with carry-case (perforated) and a 32-page instruction manual.

The pet rock, a smooth beach pebble, came on a bed of straw, complete with carry-case (perforated) and a 32-page instruction manual.

What very few people know is that Gary Dahl was put up for Honorary Fellowship of the Society in recognition of his efforts to make rocks more popular and generally adding to the gaiety of nations.  The motion, put by Professor Dick Selley (Imperial College) was, sadly, defeated.

Dahl, like many successful creators, came to have a love-loathe attitude to the Pet Rock.  For the rest of his life he received the dubious attention os ‘would-be inventors’, wanting advice.  As he told AP in 1988: “There’s a bizarre lunatic fringe who feel I owe them a living.  Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life wouldn’t have been simpler if I hadn’t done it.”

You can read more about the pet rock here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet_Rock and about its creator http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Dahl_(entrepreneur) .

Read his NY Times obit: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/us/gary-dahl-inventor-of-the-pet-rock-dies-at-78.html?_r=1

One thought on “Never a Dahl moment

  1. Pingback: Door twenty four | Geological Society of London blog

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