The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s the perfect time to dive into the history of iconic gifts—and for Americans to gear up accordingly. For savvy consumers, that means getting an early start on shopping and keeping an eye out for the best deals. For retailers, it means lining physical and virtual shelves with the hottest toys and newest gadgets.
Toy shopping has transformed over the past 100 years, whether because of advancements in the products themselves or the marketplace. Using national toy archives and data curated by The Strong, from 1920 to today, Stacker searched for products that caught hold of the public zeitgeist through novelty, innovation, kitsch, quirk, or simply great timing, and then rocketed to success. Some remain curious relics of the past while others are essentially as iconic now as they were upon their debut. Each one also functions as a window into American culture.
So how do you choose the perfect toy for your family and friends today? If you’re looking to avoid tech, you could always go with one of those historic classics that never go out of style, like yo-yos, Tonka Trucks, or teddy bears. If you want to impress with the latest innovations of the past decade, however, you can opt for robot puppies, gaming consoles, or tablets for children.
For extra inspiration, shoppers can look to Amazon—perhaps the foremost modern authority on consumer trends—for a clue on this year’s hottest toys with the site’s Top 100 Toys for this season. The curated collection includes the LEGO Star Wars Kessel Run Millennium Falcon and the Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit.
Here are the top holiday toys from the year you were born, counting up from 1920 to today. May they fill your heart—and stockings!—with joy.
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