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Pet Rock Creator Gary Dahl Dies

The Pet Rock Craze Made a Fortune For One Man 1:24

The man who put plain rocks in a box and sold them for $3.95 as "pets," igniting a 1970's fad, has passed.

Gary Ross Dahl, the creator of the wildly popular 1970s fad the Pet Rock, died at age 78 in southern Oregon.

Dahl's wife, Marguerite Dahl, confirmed Tuesday that her husband of 40 years died March 23 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The smooth stones came packed in a cardboard box containing a tongue-in-cheek instruction pamphlet for "care and feeding." Dahl estimated he had sold 1.5 million by the time the fad fizzled. Befitting the self-absorbed era that bore it, the Pet Rock required no work and no time commitment.

In 1975, he was a Los Gatos, California, freelance copywriter when he came up with the Pet Rock idea.

Dahl also penned "Advertising for Dummies."

In 2000, he was a grand prize winner in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for dreadful prose. His winning entry: "The heather-encrusted Headlands, veiled in fog as thick as smoke in a crowded pub, hunched precariously over the moors, their rocky elbows slipping off land's end, their bulbous, craggy noses thrust into the thick foam of the North Sea like bearded old men falling asleep in their pints."

Later in life, the New York Times reported, Dahl tried to market other products. "The Original Sand Breeding Kit" allowed buyers to "grow their own desert wasteland." These failed to drive the same buzz as his first creation.

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— The Associated Press