As the story goes, in April, 1975 California-based advertising executive Gary Dhal was out having drinks with a few friends when the topic of conversation turned to pets. Dahl told his pals that pets were troublesome, dirty and expensive. His chosen best buddy was a pet rock – much less trouble and a lot less mess. The friends began riffing on this idea, tossing jokes around. Dahl, however, took the matter somewhat more seriously and a business plan quickly formed in his head.
Dhal set to work writing ‘The Care and Training of your Pet Rock’ manual (“How to make your Pet Rock roll-over and play dead”), finding a cheap source of quality rocks (inexpensive, yet attractive stones from Rosarita Beach in Baja, Mexico) and creating an attention-grabbing press release.
Dhal first presented his Rocks at the Gift Show in San Francisco in August ’75. After Neiman-Marcus ordered a batch and Newsweek ran a story – the Pet Rock exploded in popularity, becoming a must-have item and genuine fad. Retailing at $3.95, the Pet Rock quickly turned Dhal into a multi-millionaire.
The Pet Rock phenomenon lasted a scant six months and after a sales surge over Christmas ’75 quickly died out. Perhaps the Pet Rock’s longest-lasting legacy is its inspirational pull on inventors looking to create the Next Big Thing.