Silly Putty

by Candace RichComment — Updated August 3, 2023

Peter Hodgson. He’s “the idea man” in Silly Putty’s meteoric rise to fame.

See, this engineer in General Electric’s New Haven laboratory, James Wright, invented it. Seeking to develop a synthetic rubber, Wright combined boric acid and silicone oil and got bouncing putty. Which he called, I swear, Gupp. Well, he wasn’t a marketing man, he was an engineer.

Passed it all around to other GE engineers but they couldn’t figure out what to do with it either. But one of them gave some to a toy store owner, which is where our Mr. Hodgson discovers it.

In debt and out of work, Hodgson needed a miracle. And there it was. He was a marketing man and he had an idea! He gave gupp a newer, sillier name – Silly Putty – and packaged it in a plastic Easter egg as that holiday was imminent.

Doubleday bought the toy for their stores but things didn’t start to rock until August when New Yorker magazine mentioned Silly Putty in an article.

Four days later Hodgson had a 225,000 orders.

And that dear friends, is the principle difference between engineering and marketing.

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