Gary Dahl, as California advertising man, was having drinks with his buddies one night in April 1975 when the conversation turned to pets. As a lark, Mr. Dahl informed his friends that he considered dogs, cats, birds, and fish all a pain in the neck. They made a mess; they misbehaved; they cost too much money. He, on the other hand, had a pet rock, and it was an ideal pet - easy and cheap, and it had a great personality. His buddies started to riff with the off-the-wall idea nd pretty soon they were al tossing around the notion of a pet rock and all the things it was good for.
Dahl spent the next two weeks writing the Pet Rock Training Manual - a step-by-step guide to having a happy relationship with your geological pet, including instructions for how to make it roll over and play dead and how to house train it. "Place it on some old newspapers. The rock will never know what the paper is for and will require no further instruction.' To Accompany the book, Dahl decided to actually create a Pet Rock. He went to a builder's supply store in San Jose and found the most expensive rock in the place - a Rosarita Beach Stone, which was a uniform size, rounded gray pebble that sold for a penny. He packed the stone in excelsior in a gift box shaped like a pet carrying case, accompanied by the instruction book.
The Pet Rock was introduced at the August gift show in San Francisco (the gift market is much easier to break into than the cutthroat toy market), then in New York. Neiman-Marcus ordered five hundred. Gary Dahl sent out homemade news releases of himself accompanied by a picture that showed him surrounded by boxes of his Pet Rocks. Newsweek did a half-page story about the nutty notion, and by the end of October Gary Dahl was shipping ten thousand Pet Rocks every Day. He appeared on "The Tonight Show," twice. By Christmas when, two and a half tons of rocks had been sold, three-fourths of all the daily newspapers in America had run Pet Rock stories, often including Gary Dahl's tongue-in-cheek revelations about how each rock was individually tested for obedience at Rosarita Beach in Baja, Mexico, before being selected and boxed. A million rocks sold for $3.95 apiece in just a few months, and Gary Dahl - who decided from the beginning to make at least one dollar from every rock - had become an instant millionaire.