Pet rocks, 1970s
By far the most low-maintenance — and not to mention, inert — pet to appear on this list, the Pet Rock was conceived in 1975 by California-based ad exec Gary Dahl at a bar (but of course booze was involved) as a cheeky alternative to “traditional” pets that require feeding, grooming and regular exercise. Billed as the perfect pet and packaged in a custom cardboard box complete with straw, breathing holes and an accompanying training manual, the Pet Rock may have originated as a gag gift, but it didn’t stop cruel, animal-weary parents from presenting their children with the rocks as an alternative to kittens, puppies and fluffy hamsters over the holiday season.
Although the Pet Rock fad eventually fizzled out, the concept was reintroduced in 2012. Reads the new Pet Rock website: “The best part about owning me is I don’t require food, water, or attention. I am already potty trained ... and I don’t shed so I am completely hypo-allergenic and organic!”