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Pet Rocks are back

The Pet Rock is the pet that has saved millions of parents from the insistent demands of their children


Considered one of the most viral objects of the 20th century, the Pet Rock is the pet that has saved millions of parents from their children's insistent demands. 

The idea came from Gary Dahl, an advertising copywriter with a keen sense of humor. These simple stones sold as pets quickly became a cultural and commercial phenomenon. 

Now, more than 4 decades later, they are experiencing an unexpected resurgence, especially in Asia, where they are in the process of winning over a new generation of fans.


In 1975, Gary Dahl had the idea of selling stones as pets while at a bar with friends who were tired of complaints about their real pets. His genius insight was to package ordinary polished stones in cardboard boxes, complete with air holes and straw, accompanied by an instruction manual for “caring” for the stone. The price? About $4 a piece, a golden bargain for an item that cost Dahl only pennies.

The tongue-in-cheek marketing and playful spirit captured the public's imagination, making Pet Rocks an instant hit. In just six months, Dahl sold more than a million Pet Rocks, becoming an overnight millionaire.

@olimpia_peroni la prox volta che penserai che la tua idea non sia abbastanza, pensa a Gary Dahl 🎄🎄 #natale #pet #rock #marketing #idea #ispirazione #regalo #curiosità #storytelling #edit #perte ♬ suono originale - Olimpia Peroni

Pet Rocks' return to Asia

Recently, Pet Rocks have found new life in Asia, where they are becoming a popular trend among millennials and beyond. Japan and South Korea, known for their relentless work rhythms are leading this resurgence.

In an age of hyperconnectivity and digital living, Pet Rocks offer a return to simplicity and tangibility that many find relaxing. Their maintenance-free and ironic nature resonate particularly well with a generation that seeks to balance the stresses of modern life with moments of levity and self-deprecation.

Cultural fascination and the modern market

The return of Pet Rocks is not just a nostalgic curiosity; it also reflects broader trends in the modern market. In Asia, in particular, the culture of “kawaii” (cute) in Japan and “healing” in South Korea, where products that offer emotional comfort are highly valued, have created fertile ground for the success of pet rocks.

In addition, modern companies are capitalizing on the trend with more elaborate variants of the original Pet Rocks, adding features such as artistic embellishments, custom designs, and packaging that make them perfect for gift giving. 

E-commerce such as Etsy and local platforms in Asia are seeing an increase in sales of these stones, confirming that nostalgia, when packaged well, can be a powerful marketing tool.


Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios