The Pet Rock


Reading — Advanced Level
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Pet Rock is a collectible toy made in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl. In April 1975, in a bar with a friend, Gary Dahl listened to his friends complain about their pets; this gave him the idea for the perfect "pet": a rock. A rock would not need to be fed, walked, bathed, or groomed, and it would not die, become sick, or be disobedient. Dahl took his "pet" idea seriously, however, and drafted an instruction manual for a pet rock. The manual was full of puns and gags that referred to the rock as an actual pet. While "sit" and "stay" were effortless to accomplish, "roll over" usually required a little extra help from the trainer. "Come," "stand" and "shake hands" were found to be near-impossible to teach; however, "attack" was fairly simple (also with some additional help from the owner's force).

Pet Rocks are smooth stones from Mexico's Rosarito Beach. They were marketed like live pets, in custom cardboard boxes, complete with straw and breathing holes. The fad lasted about six months and Dahl sold over 1 million Pet Rocks for $4 each.

With his money, Dahl opened a bar named "Carry Nations" in downtown Los Gatos, California and continued to work in advertising; however, he avoided interviews for years, because "a bunch of wackos" harassed him with lawsuits and threats. Dahl said in 1988, "Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life would have been simpler if I hadn't done it."

Source: Wikipedia
  1. What led Dahl to think of a pet rock?

  2. What do you think "extra help from the trainer" refers to?

  3. What cost the most for Dahl when manufacturing the Pet Rock?

  4. When Dahl became a millionaire, he   .

  5. What can best describe Dahl's attitude toward his decision to make Pet Rocks?


Practice your writing skills by discussing the questions below

  1. Would you purchase a Pet Rock? Why or why not?

  2. Do you think Dahl should have made as much money as he did for his idea?

  3. What are some other fads you can think of that may no longer be in style?


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      • a strong sense of happiness, power, or importance
      • an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something
      • a gift given to someone to provoke laughter
      • (griped) to complain about something
      • the practice of brushing and cleaning the coat of a horse, dog, or other animal
      • a rude or offensive act or statement : something that insults someone
      • guide
      • a humorous way of using a word or phrase so that more than one meaning is suggested
      • (sued) to use a legal process by which you try to get a court of law to force a person, company, or organization that has treated you unfairly or hurt you in some way to give you something or to do something
      • a person who is crazy or very strange and unusual


    From English
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