These 2 car accessories originated during World War II

Since people often spend a lot of time in their cars, customizing them with accessories has always been popular. From the charming dashboard ornaments of yesterday to the high-tech electronic dashcams of today, the accessories you choose often reflect your personality and interests. If you’re a fan of history or retro decor, there are two vintage dashboard ornaments you’ll definitely want to learn more about.

Do you know which two iconic dashboard ornaments originated during World War II? If you guessed the fuzzy dice and hula dancers, you’re right! One started out as a lucky charm, while the other was a popular souvenir even before the war.

Fuzzy dice

A pair of fuzzy dice in a classic car | Robert Alexandre/Getty Images

According to Erie Insurance, placing dice on the dashboard was created by fighter pilots during World War II. As hundreds of Allied airmen were lost each day, the dice constantly reminded that each mission was a “throw of the dice”. Superstitious pilots also saw dice as a lucky charm that could bring them home safely.

Fighter pilots who managed to survive the war brought home their lucky charms. Since they no longer had the dashboard of a fighter plane to store their dice, a car had to do the trick. Also, since a car’s dashboard was large and slippery, the dice got bigger, fuzzier, and started hanging from the rear view mirror over time.

Soon the fuzzy dice began to symbolize a different kind of battle. Instead of dogfights with fighter jets, it was street racing with hotrods. Supposedly, a pair of dice hanging from the mirror signaled that you were ready to run when the light turned green. Dice became a symbol of 1950s hot rod culture and are still popular automotive accessories today. You are most likely to see them hanging from the side mirrors of classic cars from that era.

hula dancers

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Hawaiian hula dolls have a slightly less morbid origin story. They were already popular souvenirs from the islands even before World War II. Intrepid visitors often brought them back as souvenirs of their journey to the exotic and still somewhat mysterious islands.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, thousands of soldiers began using the islands as a staging point for the war in the Pacific. Nostalgic troops sent the tiny, hand-painted bisque porcelain dolls to loved ones before heading off to battle. Many also collected their own hula dolls as war souvenirs to (hopefully) take home after the war.

As porcelain dolls were not very suitable for dashboards, they were replaced by plastic hula dancers in the 1950s. This modern version had spring-loaded legs that let them wiggle and swing when the car was driving on the road. They were especially popular among beachgoers in California, but these tiny dancers quickly spread across the country. Almost everyone wanted their own hula dancer.

Choose your favorite dashboard adornment

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From vintage ornaments like these to bobbleheads of your favorite football players, you’re spoiled for choice when decorating your dashboard. Some people opt for a simple air freshener, while others prefer high-tech gadgets like LED lighting, a spare infotainment system, or a GoPro camera.

Yet others go all out with a themed car interior. If you want your car to look and feel like a tropical island, a hula dancer on the dash swinging in the road will do just fine. Of course, if your vehicle spends a reasonable amount of time in the casino parking lots, you might prefer a pair of those “lucky” fuzzy dice. However you choose to decorate your car, it should reflect your personality, tastes and interests. So go ahead!

RELATED: 6 Cute Car Accessory Gifts For Your Friend Who Loves To Customize Their Car

About Dwight E. McCray

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