The ball pit is a fairly recent invention. It came after the invention of pits, balls, and the telephone, but before the George Foreman Grill, even though it is hard to imagine a time before a grill that carries fat away from the meat. Those were truly dark ages.
The first ball pits had no balls in them at all! They were filled with rocks, which were incredibly hard to swim through. McDonald’s endured a rash of lawsuits when children failed to resurface after diving in to the rock pits in their Playlands. Something had to be done.
To remedy the problem, Grimace and the Hamburglar experimented with many variations of pit filler, including, but not limited to:
* McNuggets (too chickeny)
* Hair (kept getting stuck in children’s hair)
* Pinecones (stolen around Christmas time)
* Eels (formed a union and demanded more hours off)
* Detailed maps of the Oregon coastline (AAA only had 2 on hand)
Grimace threw the two maps into the pit and seeing how pathetic and un-filling they were, he yelled, “BALLS!”
So balls it was.
That was 1973. They were an instant success and remained quite popular until the ball pit shark infestation of 1988. When the last shark was captured, the shark stigma remained until someone found a $100 bill (planted by the McDonald’s corporation) at the bottom of a pit. Word spread and the ball pit was, and is currently, back on top of the list of fun things to do, period.