Billy Beer Billy Carter (the President's brother) had a beer named for him. Forward-thinking collectors hoarded cases of Billy Beer, thinking it would someday be valuable. I understand today you can't give the stuff away...
clackers A set of clackers consisted of two acrylic balls hanging from a ring. Maneuvering the ring made the balls swing around and click together. Newton's Cradle was a desktop version utilizing Newton's laws of momentum and energy. Clackers were pulled from the market in 1971 because of numerous reports of injuries.
mood rings A mood ring used liquid crystals to detect changes in body temperature. This would supposedly indicate the wearer's mood. As the ring warmed up, the colors changed from black (a foul mood) to green and finally to blue. Liquid crystals have a limited lifespan....after a few years, my mood ring was no longer able to make it past the dirty brown stage.
Holly Hobbie was a charming little girl dressed in a large bonnet and patchwork apron. She was created by an artist and children's book author whose real name also happened to be Holly Hobbie. The character was featured on greeting cards and collectibles, and a line of dolls was launched in 1974.
In 1973, Betsey Clark's whimsical Hallmark illustrations were transformed into a line of figurines and collectibles. That same year, her artwork was featured on the first set of collectible keepsake ornaments.
The first Precious Moments illustrations appeared on greeting cards in 1975. The Jonathan & David Company introduced a series of porcelain figurines in 1978.
Wacky Stickers lampooned popular products of the day. It was fun to collect them and display them on your school notebook or lunch box.
pop rocks My first experience with Pop Rocks was in 1978. At the time, you couldn't even buy them in Illinois. A bunch of us sat in Biology class with strange looks on our faces as the little crumb-sized morsels fizzed and crackled in our mouths.
(....and no, Mikey from the Life cereal commercial did not die when he ate Pop Rocks and drank a Coke!)
pyramid power Some people believed that the triangular shape of a pyramid channeled the positive energies of the universe into the space beneath it. For believers, placing objects under a pyramid enhanced them....food wouldn't spoil, razor blades wouldn't dull, and plants would grow quicker and stronger. Living in a pyramid-shaped house or having a pyramid nearby would improve your health and well-being.
CB radios Class D Citizen's Band radios were introduced in 1958. In the 1960s, truck drivers began using them to communicate with each other while on the road. As the units became smaller and more affordable, their popularity increased. When the government reduced the national speed limit to 55 MPH in 1973, the general public latched onto CB radios as a way to keep informed of speed traps. Around 1975, they became wildly popular for drivers and non-drivers alike. Choosing a clever handle (nickname) and talking anonymously with other users had the same appeal that chatting online does today.
In 1978, President Carter signed legislation making it legal to brew beer in your home for personal consumption. Home brewing became a popular hobby all across the country. Making wine at home first became legal when Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
hot air balloons Sales of hot air balloons doubled every year from 1971 to 1977. When the Windy City Balloon Port opened near my home in 1974, it wasn't unusual to see 20 balloons a day in the summer. If you were really into it, we called you a balloonatic.
arcade games The video game revolution began in 1971 with the introduction of the first electronic arcade game, Computer Space. The Atari company released their first game the following year, an arcade video tennis game called Pong. The popularity of this game set the video game industry in motion.
By the end of the decade, electronic arcade machines were also being manufactured by Bally, Midway, Vector, Chicago Coin, Exidy, Ramtek, Cinematronics and Sega.
New arcade innovations in the 1970s included the first light gun (1974), the first trackball game controller (1978), the first high score display (1978) and the first enclosed cockpit cabinet (1979).
The 1970s also gave us the first games based on movies (Jaws) and celebrities (Fonzie).
home consoles Video game consoles allow you to play video games on any standard television set. In 1972, Magnavox Odyssey was the first home console. Atari produced a home version of Pong in 1975, and introduced their hugely successful home console in 1977. Atari games were also sold by Sears as part of their Tele-Games brand, and the Atari consoles were sold by Sears as the Sears Video Arcade.
The Odyssey was programmed by inserting circuit board cards into a slot. Other early consoles arrived from the factory with the games already built in. A huge step forward was taken in 1976 when the first cartridge systems were introduced. From that point on, the game possibilities were endless.