The Frisbee got its name because if you give young people an object often enough, they will turn it into a toy. This is especially true if the young people are college students will a small amount of money and a large amount of free time. Cheap entertainment is always sought out. Whether tossing a ball or a pie pan, young people like to play even if they have to make up the game.
When a pie baker named Frisbie started to put his pies into tin pans that carried the name of the baking company, he had little expectation that he had just started a new nationwide fad. Of course, the students at Yale did not know they were part of a 7 decade series of events that would produce one of the most popular toys ever invented. When students began sailing the pie tins back and forth to each other, they needed a name for the activity. “Let’s go play with a pie tin,” just did not have the right cache to it. So, they dubbed it “Frisbie-ing.” That is what it stayed for the next half century or so.
An interesting character by the name of Morrison was taken by the popular notion of flying saucers invading earth from alien societies in deep space or maybe from Pluto. In order to gain more popularity for the idea, Morrison decided to create a flying disc that simulated the look of a flying saucer when it sailed through the air. It was eventually manufactured in plastic.
In the mid-1950’s, he marketed the toy nationally with some success as the Pluto Platter. The idea was noticed by the Wham-O company who bought the rights to the toy. The name was changed to the Flyin Saucer although some sources say it was also still marketed as the Pluto Platter. This happened about 1957.
About this same time a Wham-O executive by the name of Knerr happened onto an easter college campus and saw the students enjoying the platters. However, they called their game “Frisbie-ing” after the same game played with the pie tins. Liking the name and seeing a potential increase in the market, Knerr quickly moved to trademark the name Frisbee in 1958 which is what he thought the students were calling the disc. The bakery with the name Frisbie had closed its doors slightly before the trademark was established. This cleared the way for the name of the plastic flying disc that still remains popular to this day.
Information in this article was enhanced by the following sources: