Mark Lennihan/AP Photo (tickle me elmo); Jenny Goodall/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock (furby); Andrew Dunsmore/REX/Shutterstock (troll)


CCSS: 6.SP.B.4, 6.SP.B.5, 7.SP.B.3, 8.SP.A.1, MP1, MP5, MP6

TEKS: 6.12A, 6.12B, 6.12C, 6.12D, 6.13A, 7.6G, 7.12A, 8.5C, 8.11A

Fad Frenzy

Back in 1967, every kid wanted a Troll doll. In 1997, Tamagotchi digital pets were the talk of the town. And in 2017, there was a frenzy for fidget spinners.

If you didn’t have one spinning between your index finger and thumb, your classmates probably did. But their popularity faded as quickly as it rose. Cheap and easy to produce, fidget spinners were a classic toy fad. 

A fad is an exaggerated interest in something that’s short-lived. The word itself dates back to the 1800s, but fads have been around for much longer. And toys aren’t the only things that have become fads. In 1637, a tulip craze swept the Netherlands—everyone had to have the flowers. Some even paid more than the cost of a house for a single flower bulb!

“Our desire for novelty fuels our appetite for fads,” says Margo Bergman, a fad researcher at the University of Washington. Toy fads usually last about 6 months to a year. They are often successful because they appeal to kids, who crave new experiences more than adults do. Kids also have less-developed decision-making capabilities, Bergman explains, making them more susceptible to impulse buys.

But the same biological mechanism behind toy fads applies to pretty much everything in popular culture. Boy bands in the 1990s, superhero movies in the 2010s, tulips in the 1600s—they are all driven by our desire for things that are new!

Beepstock/Alamy Stock Photo (bratz doll); Andrew Dunsmore/REX/Shutterstock (troll); Hugh Threlfall/Alamy Stock Photo (tamagotchi); Art Directors & TRIP/Alamy Stock Photo (beanie baby); Peter Gudella/ (rubik’s cube); iStock/Getty images (fidget spinner, pokémon cards); Al Freni/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images (pet rock); Jenny Goodall/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock (furby); MARK LENNIHAN/AP Photo (tickle me elmo); John Stillwell/PA Wire/AP Photo (hatchimals); iStock/Getty images (fidget spinner); MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images (superhero)

Answer the following questions using the information in the charts and graphs above. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

Which one-hit wonder on the graph has been played the most times on Spotify?

A) My Sharona

B) Take On Me

C) Ice Ice Baby

D) Macarena

In what month did fidget spinners reach peak search popularity?

A) March

B) April

C) May

D) June

Which song has been played about twice as many times as “Sugar, Sugar”?

A) My Sharona

B) Tainted Love

C) Luftballons

D) Ice Ice Baby

What was the approximate search popularity of fidget spinners in March 2017?

A) 4

B) 15

C) 20

D) 53

There were 9 original Beanie Babies. How much would it have cost to buy one of each of them in 1995?

A) $17.91

B) $31.50

C) $44.55

D) $44.91

What was the first year on the chart to have an equal number of Marvel and DC superhero movies (except 2001, which had none)?

A) 2005

B) 2009

C) 2015

D) 2016

Write a ratio comparing the number of superhero movies released by DC and Marvel comic franchises in 2016.

What’s the median original sales price for the fad toys in the chart?

How many Pet Rocks could you buy for the same price as a Furby?

What fraction of superhero movies planned to be released in 2018 and 2019 will be Marvel movies?

videos (1)
Skills Sheets (1)
Lesson Plan (1)