By Steve Ostrander, Michigan Historical Museum
Daisy Outdoor Products is the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of air guns and accessories.
Daisy had its beginnings in 1882 as Plymouth Iron Windmill Company, a manufacturer of windmills in Plymouth, Michigan. By the late 1880s the windmill business was changing, and the company began looking for new products to sell.
In 1886, Plymouth inventor Clarence Hamilton introduced a new idea to the windmill company. It was a gun that could fire a lead ball using compressed air. Lewis Cass Hough, then president of the firm, gave it a try. After his first shot, he enthusiastically exclaimed, â€œBoy, that’s a daisy!â€
The name stuck and the BB gun went into production as a premium item given to farmers when they purchased a windmill. The gun was such a huge success that Plymouth Iron Windmill soon began manufacturing the Daisy BB gun in place of windmills. On January 26, 1895 the company’s board of directors voted to change the name to Daisy Manufacturing Company, Inc.
The sturdy little BB guns quickly became a staple with American youth. One gun, more than any other, played a major role in making Daisy the household name it is today. Introduced in 1939, the Daisy Red Ryder has sold over 9 million units, easily making it the most famous BB gun ever built!
In 1958, Daisy moved their corporate offices and manufacturing facilities from Plymouth to Rogers, Arkansas.
Toy soldiers, sleds, model cars and games of all kinds are the focus of the Batteries Not Included Toy Exhibit featuring toys that were either manufactured in Michigan or donated by Michigan residents. It’s at the Michigan Historical Museum until March 2011. For more information, visit the Michigan Historical Museum Facebook page.