Play-Doh & Thinking

Walk down the aisles in your local toy store and eventually you’ll come across a favorite among kids that has stood the test of time: Play-Doh. Who could ever forget Play-Doh—bright yellow cans, a soft compound, and the unforgettable smell. Play-Doh has been around for years—since 1956 to be exact. Of course, when Play-Doh first hit the shelves in Washington D.C., it was only available in one brilliant color—off-white. Not like today where you can get Play-Doh in a wide assortment of colors like Rose Red, Purple Paradise, Blue Lagoon, or Garden Green. And for those hard-core Play-Doh fanatics, there’s even wood-scented Play-Doh for use with your Play-Doh Power Drill Kit or Buzzin’ Buzz Saw.

So just how big is the Play-Doh craze?

  • The formula for the original Play-Doh compound still remains top secret.
  • Today, Play-Doh is sold in more than 6,000 stores in the United States and in more than 75 countries worldwide.
  • If combined, the total amount of Play-Doh Compound manufactured since 1956 would weigh more than 700 million pounds. That’s equal to the weight of almost two Grand Coulee Dams in Washington or the weight of 159 fully-loaded Space Shuttles.
  • Approximately 95 million cans of Play-Doh Compound are manufactured each year, and more than 2 billion cans of Play-Doh have been sold since 1956.
  • If all the Play-Doh Compound made since 1956 was extruded through the Fun FactoryÒ, it would make a “snake” that would wrap around the world nearly 300 times. (

That’s some serious Play-Doh. Add to that the fast-food Play-Doh gadgets, the wide assortment of power tools, and the Doh-Ville Fuzzy-Farm Animals, and you have the makings of a kid’s Play-Doh Dream World. So why all the talk about Play-Doh?

Well, thinking is a lot like Play-Doh. It can be soft and pliable. It can be shaped and formed. Or it can stink. It can become dry, hard and crumbly. Like Play-Doh, thinking can be shaped into something useful or become as useless as Play-Doh baked under the hot sun.

Jesus recognized this “useless” thinking in some of the most “spiritual” people of his day. To the Pharisees and teachers of the law He said, “You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:6). The way these leaders thought affected everything…and it does in your life and my life too.

The Apostle Paul captured this truth in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Thinking is conformed or transformed. In my next post I’ll unpack what Romans 12:2 means and provide a clear picture of what Paul had in mind when he challenged the church in Rome with these words. But to start with, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What is my mind most conformed to?
  • What would a transformed mind look like?
  • How could I best close the gap between “conformed” and “transformed” thinking?