I wonder if Laura would like an X-Box?
Leada Gore, Editor
My favorite books growing up were the Little House on the Prairie series, featuring the adventures of Laura Ingalls and her pioneer family. In one book, she described a particularly memorable Christmas where she received a penny. On another Christmas, she was supposed to get some candy, but Pa got trapped in a snow storm and had to eat it, or something like that.
Either way, Laura's Christmas would be less than slim by today's standards. I don't know a single child who would say "Oh boy! A penny" today, unless the penny was taped onto an X-Box 360. That X-Box, plus the penny, will set you back about $850.01 on Ebay right now, by the way.
The cost of Christmas has gone up each year and there doesn't seem to be a limit in sight. The average parent spends way more than the Three Wisemen did on their presents and they brought gold to the party for Heaven's sake. If you doubt this assertion, all you have to do is look back at a list of the most popular toys from the last century as compiled recently by Forbes magazine. They examined the most popular toys dating back to 1900 all the way through today.
In the 1900s, those honors went to Crayola Crayons and teddy bears. By 1910, children were asking for Raggedy Ann dolls and Lincoln Logs. By 1920, they had moved to Yo-Yos and by 1930, to Viewmasters and Monopoly games.
Board games were the rage in the 1940s, with two of the most popular toys being Scrabble and Candy Land. In the 1950s, it was Barbie, hula hoops and Mr. Potato Heads. Things stayed pretty much the same in the 1960s, with the addition of G.I. Joe and Easy Bake Ovens. Even the 1970s weren't bad. The most popular items then were Rubik's Cubes and Strawberry Shortcake dolls.
And then things changed. You can blame it all on Cabbage Patch Kids. Those squatty dolls became popular in the 1980s and formerly sane parents were suddenly willing to pay any sum so their child could "adopt" a Cabbage Patch Doll. Things got even crazier in the 1990s, when Beanie Babies became a hit. It wasn't too out of the ordinary to pay $100 for Tobasco the Bull or whatever were the supposedly "hot" Beanie Babies. Those weren't toys, after all, they were an investment.
And what about now? So far, this decade's hot toy has been the razor scooter. An electric one of those will set you back about $300, which is a long way from a penny and some hard candy.
Who knows what the future holds for popular toys? Probably $1,000 video game consoles and $500 dolls.
I, for one, won't be biting. I will be handing out pennies and candy – taped to an X-Box of course. I'd hate to disappoint any of the children.