The company founder, Joe Markham, created the KONG product in the 1970s, when he noticed his German shepherd Fritz damaging his teeth by chewing rocks. He found that Fritz enjoyed chewing on a hard rubber Volkswagen Bus suspension device, and spent about six years experimenting with different compounds to produce a chew toy of similar size and shape that he could sell to pet owners. A friend commented that the toy looked like "an earplug for King Kong"—hence its name. Originally, Markham sold most of his products to Israel, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom, but the Kong began a rise in sales in the United States in the mid-1980s, and has remained popular there subsequently.
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