Whether you are a baby boomer and remember the first troll doll craze of the 60’s, or a child of the 80’s and remember it the second time around in the 90’s, if you have children or grandchildren, troll craze number three is about to take con-troll!
“It is the thought that counts,” is a familiar saying that we have all heard regarding the importance of thoughtfulness when giving or receiving a gift. For humble father Thomas Dam, his handmade gifts were creative and unique, but more importantly, essential for his family’s survival.
After working as a baker, fisherman and bricklayer, Thomas, auspiciously turned to woodworking to provide for his struggling family. He created a heartfelt treasure for his young daughter in 1959, a troll doll carved from wood with glass eyes and woolen hair. Soon friends were requesting their own troll dolls, and from the little shed at the back of the family’s house in Gjøl, situated in the northern part of Denmark, Thomas began taking orders and selling his Dam troll dolls at local fun fairs and toy stores.
It didn’t take long for the first ‘troll craze’ to catch on. By 1963 the Dam trolls had been named Toy of the Year by the United States Toy Association, second only to Barbie among doll sales that decade in the country. Dam Troll dolls have even made it onto Time’s list of All-Time 100 Greatest Toys.
Today, Thomas Dam’s troll dolls are about to take off yet again with the release of DreamWorks’ Trolls animated feature film about the search for happiness, and just how far some will go to get it.
So just what is behind this troll doll phenomenon?
Trolde (trolls) are magical creatures of Norse mythology going back to vikingetide (Viking times). According to Scandinavian folklore, they were cruel giants who lived throughout Danmark, Norge og Sverige (Denmark, Norway and Sweden). One never knew when they may come across a troll dwelling in bjerge (mountains), skove (forests), heder (moors) and enge (meadows) or under broer/broar (bridges), so “Pas på trolden!” (Beware of the troll!) was a common phrase.
However, today trolls are known as cute and playful; the universal symbol of happiness, good luck and generosity, thanks to Thomas Dam’s wonderful gift.