Presleymania reached its peak in November 1956
Elvis Presley's breakout year was 1956, as every Elvis fan knows. However, it wasn't until November of that year, after his first two appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, that the stampede began among merchandisers to capitalize on the Presley phenomenon. On November 3, 1956, Variety detailed some of the craziness.
At the time RCA reported that sales of Elvis's "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog" single had reached 2.6 million copies in the U.S. alone. Over 1.8 million copies of his new single, "Love Me Tender," had already been shipped.
The record company was selling more than Elvis records in 1956, though. That November it started shipments of its Elvis Presley portable record player. The player featured Presley's autograph stamped in gold on the top cover of the simulated blue denim case and could be purchased in two different packages. A four-speed model came with a two-pocket Elvis extended play record for $32.95. The second offer included an automatic 45 r.p.m. player with a three-pocket EP album for $44.95.
Variety also reported other tidbits of Presleymania on November 3. Te Leonet Corporation in New York was granted an exclusive license for the sale of Elvis scarves. Besides a silk screened image of Elvis, they carried the titles of his hit records. And Elvis letter writing contest run by station WAIT in Chicago drew a total of 1,099,127 pieces of mail in 2 weeks. Two teeneagers won prizes for delivering 136,000 and 127,825 letters respectively to the station. Finally, although RCA officials denied any connection with it's Presley meal ticket the companmy started closing it's New York 24th street offices at 5 pm thus shortening their employees workweek by 2 1/2 hours. Record companies with less hit records continued to work til 5:30 pm.