Sunday, July 29, 2012

Frisbie Pies and the Tangential History of Frisbee Flying Objects

I was watching a NatGeo (National Geographic) episode on cable television a few days ago.  This particular NatGeo episode reviewed the process of documentation of UFO's.  I am not particularly interested in the subject matter of UFO's since I prefer to concentrate on what goes on around me in the earthly plane instead of outer space.

In any event, the television show interviewed an astronomer and director of MUFON in Terryville, CT.  MUFON has an internet database where anyone can report a UFO sighting and MUFON staff will investigate the sighting and document the event. 

The NatGeo episode covered a variety of UFO topics most of which are old news to the average television viewer.  One note of the show did peak my curiosity-the comment that the "Frisbee" flying disc toy was invented the "year after" the Roswell, NM flying saucer incident which occurred in June or July of 1947.  Thus, the television show note implied that the plastic Frisbee toy was invented in 1948.   The following is a mock-up photo of the 1947 Roswell, NM incident:

Bridgeport, CT, like most other cities and towns, prides itself on inventions and unique events that are part of the city's history.  As a person who grew-up in Bridgeport, CT,  I am aware that Bridgeport has occassionally claimed the invention of the Frisbee, i. e., the plastic disc toy that one can throw and use to perform entertaining tricks with friends or their pet dogs.  I also am aware that there was a famous Bridgeport, CT Frisbie Pies company that sold pies in thin metal tins in the late 1800's to the early 1900's.   Anecdotal history also claims that Yale University students (New Haven, CT) used these thin metal pie tins to toss around and play games with their friends.   

Hence, I refer in the Blog Post Title to the "Frisbie Pies and the Tangential History of Frisbee Flying Objects".  Kindly see the following link for one summary of the history of the invention of the plastic flying disc Frisbee:

According to this summary the plastic disc toy, Frisbee, was to patented and sold in the mid 1950's by the Wham-O Company of California.  The actual inventors of the toy in the 1950's were listed as being from California.  Therefore, the comment that the Frisbee toy, as stated in the NatGeo television show, was invented the year after the Roswell, NM flying saucer incident is not quite accurate.  The plastic disc toy was not manufactured and sold until the mid 1950's.  Below is a drawing by a Mr. Header of one Frisbee toy patent:

Also, Bridgeport, CT can rightfully claim the old Frisbie Pie Company, but cannot honor itself as inventors of the plastic toy Frisbee.

Anyone who has evidence to the contrary, i. e., that the plastic Frisbee toy was invented in Bridgeport, feel free to comment.  As a scientist, I suspect that the modern plastic Frisbee toy was probably invented by a few different people, but was only patented and sold to Wham-O by 1 or 2 people in the 1950's.

Lastly, in the 1960's there were radio news reports from a local Bridgeport, CT station that UFO's were hovering over City Hall for more than one night.  Supposedly, hundreds of people went to the City Hall area on those nights to witness the "UFO's".  I was too young to go to the City Hall to look at the alleged "UFO's" hovering over City Hall, however, to date, I have not been able to find newspaper reports of the incident.  When I recently checked the MUFON database there were no similar reports documented from that same time period and the location.  I cannot imagine why a UFO would bother to hover over the City of Bridgeport's City Hall annex.

Since the Summer Olympics just began this weekend, I share the following illustration from antiquity that the concept of flying discs is not something that is truly a 19th or 20th century invention: 


  1. Wham-O company was purchased by a Chinese company in 2006. See the following newpaper article for additional history of Wham-O and the Frisbee (1955 acquisition of Frisbee concept and 1957 sales launch of the Frisbee as the Pluto Platter):

  2. My grandmother, born 1920 in Bridgeport, CT, said she used to throw Frisbee pie tins around when she was a kid. Maybe Bridgeport can't claim the invention of a plastic Frisbee, but why call a flat disc that you throw a Frisbee unless the name comes from the common past time of throwing pie tins?

  3. I was raised in bridgeport ct as was my family and that seemed to be common knowledge cuz they used to throw the tins at each other was the reason .and frisbee I guess mimicked the frisbie pie