Conspiracy Theory: Gifted and Talented = Product Research and Development

When I was a kid in school there was a gifted and talented program called DELV. To this day I don’t know what those letters stand for, which is probably why for years I wasn’t invited. Some of my friends would leave the regular class and go to a place that was probably more fun than what we were doing, I assumed.

In 4th grade I was finally accepted among the DELV elite. I don’t remember a lot of what happened, but it was usually some outside-the-box kinds of exercises where we didn’t learn by rote. Perhaps the school administration thought that these bright, young minds would be wasted doing the same math problems as other students. That sounds pretty harsh, but then again most schools called this program GIFTED AND TALENTED, implying that other students were more likely to be failures all their lives.

Nevertheless, there was one day I remember. Our DELV teacher asked us about hula hoops. We’ve known them all our lives, but they’ve pretty much been the same since they ever came out. So we were divided into teams of two and given the task that apparently most toy companies failed to tackle. How could the hula hoop be improved?

By the end of the session pretty much all the teams had arrived at the same idea. Hula hoops are dumb, they don’t count. There should be a way for the hula hoop to tell you how many hoops you did, or for how long you’ve been hula-hooping. My team also thought it would be cool if the hula hoop could change colors.

We left the class to continue our regular studies, pass notes, and so on. I didn’t think anything of it until about a year later while watching saturday morning cartoons. A commercial aired, advertising a product I was pretty familiar with.

A counting hula hoop.

I’ve always wondered if Wham-O, or whatever toy company came out with this version of the hoop, had gone to elementary schools in the early 90s and asked the school administration to have gifted and talented programs improve the hula hoop.

The funny thing is that it doesn’t seem like the flipped-out hula hoop lasted long. Wham-O only still sells the original Hula Hoop along with a portable, folding hula hoop. There are hoops that change colors, but it’s hard to find one that counts.

The counting idea did spread to other products, including Skip It!

…During a second production occurring in the early-1990s, the toy was manufactured with a counter on the Skip-It ball; designed to make the number of skips impeccably accurate.