Fading Craze or Crazy Fad?

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I was interviewed the other day for a
Wall Street Journal
story
on the current Silly Bandz craze. The reporter and I discussed the
difference between a “craze” and a “fad.” My online dictionary defines a
craze as, “an enthusiasm for a
particular activity or object that typically appears suddenly and
achieves widespread but short-lived popularity.
” The same
dictionary defines a fad as, “an
intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, esp. one that is
short-lived and without basis in the object's qualities.

Although the two definitions are somewhat interchangeable, the word fad
brings baggage with it.

There’s more than a hint of negativity to
a fad. Got swept up in a craze? There’s no way anyone could resist. Got
swept up in a fad? “There’s a sucker born every minute,” as the showman
PT Barnum used to say. BCP Imports, the makers of Silly Bandz have two
main concerns: Keeping their current craze from becoming a fad and not
over producing should the latter label stick and the spigot of Silly
Bandz suddenly turn off and stay off.

A fad eventually
disappears, while a craze drops dramatically in popularity but stays at a
level of success that is sustainable over time. By this distinction,
anything that sells like mad can be defined as a craze when you’re in
the middle of it. It’s only after the dust settles that history is
determined.

Pet Rock was a fad.
Cabbage Patch Kids was a
craze.
Mood Rings: Fad
Rubik’s Cube: Craze
Pogs: Fad
Beanie
Babies: Craze

Toy Nation does itself a disservice when it
represents a craze as a fad. In the great craze/fad debate, no toy gets
dragged through the mud more than the Hula Hoop. WHAM-O's hit toy from
1958 was one of the biggest selling toys in history, but because it was
such a short-lived craze, it has been falsely categorized as the "biggest fad of
all time." It even has its own idiom, “It went the way of the Hula
Hoop,” as if to say that something disappeared. Will Newspapers go the way of the Hula Hoop? a recent
headline asked. When I interviewed Rich Knerr, one of the founding
members of WHAM-O for my WHAM-O Super
Book
, he told me that when WHAM-O was sold in 1982, they were
selling a million and a half Hula Hoops a year. In other words, the
craze of 1958 was still pretty darn big nearly 25 years later. A craze
had become a classic. The Hula Hoop was no mere fad.

So as we
stand in the middle of a literal storm of flying rubber, we can only
watch and wait for toy history to be made. For BCP Imports it's the
million (billion?) dollar question: Will Silly Bandz simply come back
down to earth or fall off the face of it?

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