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If you are a dog owner, you probably know about the KONG branded chew toys. The bulbous rubber toys, which resemble the shape of a snowman, are ideal for die-hard chewers thanks to their durability. But did you know that the original KONG toy was made in the 70’s and was inspired by a Volkswagen part?
It started in Denver, Colorado when auto repair shop owner Joe Markham was struggling with many break-ins and break-ins. Due to budget cuts at the local police force, additional patrols were not possible in his area and it was suggested that he get a guard dog. That’s when Joe decided to save a German Shepherd named Fritz.
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It wasn’t long, however, before Joe realized that Fritz loved to chew all the time. If he didn’t destroy animal bones or radiator hoses in the workshop, he eventually gnawed at stones that wore his teeth. Desperate for a solution, Joe sought out veterinarians and canine behavior experts to find a solution. Unfortunately, no one could give him a solution to Fritz’s obsession with rock.
But one day while working on a Volkswagen Type 2 bus, Joe noticed that Fritz had gotten a bulbous rubber axle stop from the stack of parts he was working from – and he didn’t destroy it or ruin his teeth. That’s when Joe had the idea to make an official dog toy based on the VW part.
Over the next six years, he experimented with the size and shape of the toy to find the perfect solution for Fritz. Joe even contacted VW to buy the axle stop parts in bulk but couldn’t and ended up talking to rubber experts in Germany to finish what we now know as the KONG dog toy.
Joe started selling the KONG in 1976 and the toy has been a success ever since thanks to a curious German Shepherd who decided to chew on a German auto part.
Morgan (she / she) has lived all over the US and Europe. Now living outside of Philadelphia, Morgan often spends time spotting Canadian actors in film and television, testing her caffeine tolerance, and playing board games with her wife. See more items from Morgan.