The Pet Rock Captured a Moment and Made Its Creator a Millionaire

If you’re old enough to remember the 1970s, there’s little doubt that you’re familiar with the Pet Rock. No messes, no allergies, no effort — just pure, simple solidarity. That was the Pet Rock, the perfect pet created by Gary Ross Dahl. The tongue-in-cheek project became a pop culture fad that made Dahl lots of money and continued to draw attention in the decades that followed. Dahl took smooth stones and rested them on a bed of wood shavings inside a cardboard box, featuring air holes for breathing purposes. Along with the box came an instruction pamphlet for “care and training.” The instructions featured obedience commands such as “come,” “stay,” “roll over” and “play dead.” Dahl introduced his Pet Rock in 1975, even making an appearance with it on the Tonight Show. Dahl thought of his project as “packaging a sense of humor for a very bored public.” When the fad finally fizzled out, Dahl had sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks for $3.95 each — not a bad haul for devising a preposterous pet.