Melissa & Doug
Size: 6.5 Toddler
The story of Melissa & Doug toys began in 1988 with two people named, not surprisingly, Melissa & Doug. The couple, now married with six children, started their company in Doug’s parent’s garage while they were still dating.
Melissa & Doug wanted to produce toys reminiscent of times past, simple wooden puzzles and playthings without all the bells, whistles, batteries and lights that permeate the toy market nowadays. The couple knew they were working against the new trends of computer time and complex electronic toys, but they went ahead and made the bet that classic, uncomplicated toys could have a place in the toy market.
Their first toy was a fuzzy animal wooden puzzle. Today, the company sells more than 2,000 different products for children of all ages. The element that has remained unchanged over the last 25 years is the company’s focus on innovative designs that engage kids’ imagination.
Even though Melissa & Doug do very little advertising of their products, the company has grown by double digits almost every year, reaching 650 employees in the late 2000s from the two-person team that started it all. This grown has been accomplished by introducing new iterations of classic children’s toys that have appealed to parents tired of the constant stream of electronic toys and screen time that thwart kids’ use of imaginative play.
Wooden puzzles are one of the most popular products in the Melissa & Doug lineup of toys. The company has a wide variety of puzzles for every age and ability level, from simple puzzles with wooden jumbo knobs to jigsaw puzzles with 500 pieces.
But puzzles are just a small piece of the pie of the Melissa & Doug universe. The company has more than 2,000 different products, such as its line of Food Play, with a large variety of pretend wooden food, a line of stainless steel pots and pans, shopping cart, a pretend kitchen and a grocery store stand.
Melissa & Doug offers classic looking, wooden trains and vehicles, tool boxes, dollhouses, castles and a line of costume sets and puppets and theater for kids’ performances.
The line of classroom supplies include educational, manipulative toys that are very popular with educators and parents, such as theme puzzle sets, geography maps, arts & crafts supplies and a variety of learning mats for math, the alphabet and other subjects.
In a world of electronic toys, apps and video games, it’s refreshing to go back to the basics and have wooden toys that engage kids’ imaginations and put them in charge of coming up with how to play and decide what comes next.
Melissa & Doug toys are a call back to simple times when toys were just an extension of a child’s imagination, an interactive tool that enabled a child to dream. We love the puzzles because of their extensive variety, but we are also big fans of the wooden vehicles, toolboxes, the wonderful dollhouses and the many educational toys and puppets.
For bringing kids back from screen time and letting them be the imaginative geniuses they were born to be, we have to give Melissa & Doug 5 out 5 stars
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