Innovation history: Elsie Stix, how to get parents to buy more for kids!

Elsie Stix ... These were great toys. They fall under the "get kids to have parents buy more stuff" category.

Elsie Stix were plastic ice cream sticks that were toys after ice cream was eaten. Only you could not have just one. You needed a bunch to really play with them. Hence the parental influence.

"Mom, can you please buy more Elsie Stix ice cream?" "Please?!?"

Elsie Stix in use.

Elsie Stix Flickr picture set

The cool thing about Elsie Stix was their interconnectiveness. They could be put together in many ways to create different toys.

They came out in the early 1970's (I got mine between 1973 and 1975ish) and were fun to collect and play with. They were also very portable. I regularly took them to school to make things at recess (I probably lost a few that way:). Some how I managed to keep about 30 stix since that time!

The history of the Elsie Stix appears to have really started in the 1950's with patent 2844910, a construction kit made out of wooden ice cream sticks by the Southern Ice Cream Company of Kansas City, MO. FYI, the patent link works best in Internet Explorer.

This patent was extended in 1972 with patents 3663717 and 3748778. The new toy design utilized plastic and modified the stick interlocking design.

Interestingly, Theora Design in Israel claims to have invented Elsie Stix under the name Icetix and distributed them in the USA through Borden Dairy.

Finding Elsie Stix requires some ingenuity. eBay, the great Super Store, did not have anything for sale today, though some Stix had sold in the summer of 2006.

Why were these innovative? They created a sense of "wow" in kids, they were clever, practical, and (marketing innovation) utilized the notion of "you need more of our product to get the things you want (Stix)".

Short Quicktime movies are at the Internet Archive: About Elsie Stix (there is a 320x240 version and a smaller 160x120 version).

YouTube version below (320x240 version).


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