The Who2 Blog

Frisbee Inventor Flies Off Into the Sunset

A popcorn lid, not a pie tin, is what inspired Frisbee inventor Fred Morrison:

During a Thanksgiving Day family picnic in 1937, Morrison and his future wife Lu Nay tossed the lid of a popcorn tin back and forth for fun. The tin dented easily so they moved on to cake pans. Soon Morrison was selling “Flying Cake Pans” for 25 cents each on the beaches of Santa Monica, California.

Fred Morrison died at his home in Monroe, Utah yesterday at age 90.  He died of old age with an assist from cancer, according to his son Walt.

Morrison called early versions of his disc the Whirlo-Way, the Flyin-Saucer and then the Pluto Platter.  (A moon reference might have been a nice tribute to a wife named Lu Nay, but ah, well.)

The final name actually did come from pie, though:

Morrison was the father of the Frisbee, but flying discs were popular before his birth. In 1871, William Russell Frisbie started a pie bakery in Bridgeport, Conn. In 1915, Frisbie’s descendant, Joe, built a larger factory — big enough that his workers had free time and reportedly began throwing empty pie plates around. A few years later catch-and-toss games spread to college campuses in the Northeast.

When Wham-O bought the rights to Morrison’s invention, they adopted the Frisbie name and changed the spelling.  (Morrison hated the name at first: “I thought it was insane,” he told the Associated Press in 2007.)

Morrison came to change his mind: over 200 million Frisbees have been sold.

His death calls to mind the old George Carlin joke about becoming a Frisbeetarian:  “Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.”

Good luck, Mr. Morrison, wherever you are!

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