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December 14, 2021

Remember the Pet Rock, a Short Lived Fad That Peaked in Popularity During the 1975 Holiday Season

Pet Rock is a collectible toy made in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl. Pet Rocks are smooth stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach. They were marketed like live pets, in custom cardboard boxes, complete with straw and breathing holes. The fad lasted about six months, ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975. Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold over 1 million Pet Rocks for $4 each, and became a millionaire.

Each Pet Rock came in a cardboard carrying case, complete with air holes, tenderly nestled on a bed of excelsior. (Al Freni/The LIFE Images Collection)

Gary Dahl came up with the idea in a bar while listening to his friends complain about their pets; this gave him the idea for the perfect “pet”: a rock. A rock would not need to be fed, walked, bathed, or groomed, and it would not die, become sick, or be disobedient. Dahl said that they were to be the perfect pets and joked about it with his friends. Dahl took his “pet” idea seriously, however, and drafted an instruction manual for a pet rock. The manual was full of puns and gags that referred to the rock as an actual pet.

“Your PET ROCK will be a devoted friend and companion for many years to come,” stated Dahl’s booklet, which featured illustrations of the rocks in inaction. “Rocks enjoy a rather long life span so the two of you will never have to part –– at least not on your PET ROCK’s account. Once you have transcended the awkward training stage your rock will mature into a faithful, obedient, loving pet with but one purpose in life –– to be at your side when you want it to, and to go lie down when you don’t.”

Gary Dahl in 1975 with the Pet Rock, a product that sold for $3.95 and made him a millionaire practically overnight.

Gary Dahl in 1975 with the Pet Rock.

Dahl’s biggest expense was the die-cutting and manufacture of the boxes. The rocks only cost one cent each, and the straw was nearly free. For the initial run of booklets, Dahl had a printing job for a client, and “tacked” the pet rock booklet onto the main job. This resulted in a batch requiring only a cut and trim, at almost no cost to him.

A 32-page official training manual titled The Care and Training of Your Pet Rock was included, with instructions on how to properly raise and care for one’s new Pet Rock (notably lacking instructions for feeding, bathing, and so on). The instruction manual contained gags, puns and jokes, and listed several commands that could be taught to the new pet. While “sit” and “stay” were effortless to accomplish, “roll over” usually required a little extra help from the trainer. “Come,” “stand” and “shake hands” were found to be near-impossible to teach; however, “attack” was fairly simple (also with some additional help from the owner’s force).

With his money, Dahl opened a bar named “Carry Nations” in downtown Los Gatos, California, a reference to Carrie Nation. Dahl continued to work in advertising; however, he avoided interviews for years, because “a bunch of wackos” harassed him with lawsuits and threats. Dahl said in 1988, “Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life would have been simpler if I hadn’t done it.”

The Pet Rock became available again on September 3, 2012. Rosebud Entertainment currently holds the United States trademark rights to the Pet Rock.

The Pet Rock “Pet Carrier”, which doubled as its packaging.


  1. reminding us all again how moronic yanks are.

    1. Dude, it was a joke. We knew it was funny. Why not have a Pet Rock? Nobody got hurt and the guy made a bundle of money. Stone Soup.




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