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Older Than Dirt

Older Than Dirt Ice Breakers Busy Beaver Button Museum
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older than DIRT
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White text spelling "DIRT" in a purple box with red text above it and red, yellow, and green triangles over black background. 

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The idiom "older than dirt" is a variation on the phrase "older than the hills." This phrase has its origins in the Bible, in allusion to Job 15:7 'Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?'. Commonly used to mean exceedingly or immeasurably old, the first cited instance of the phrase was in 1819.

Founder Russ Berrie started his business with $500, he rented a garage in Palisades Park, New Jersey, and launched his own firm named after himself. Berrie intended to design, market, and distribute “impulse” gift items. From the start, Russ Berrie & Company produced a string of hit products that quickly found their way onto countertops, desks, and dashboards across the country. Among the company’s earliest creations: Fuzzy Wuzzies (tiny fur ball-like critters bearing messages like “You’re My Best Friend” or “Wild Thing”), troll dolls (squat gnomes with plumes of brightly colored hair) and the Bupkis Family (a motley collection of endearingly ugly rubber figurines). The owner believed in the power of “transformational giving,” partnering with energetic, visionary leaders to change the world for the better. He took an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy, using his keen interpersonal skills to identify people and causes in which to invest and working closely with partners to hone strategies and set expectations.  “There is nothing more important in life than helping a fellow human being.”  — Russell Berrie (1933-2002).


About Russ Berrie. (n.d.) Russell Berrie Foundation.  Retrieved from

ESC. (2006). OLD AS THE HILLS ORIGINATE FROM? - phrase meaning and origin. Retrieved 20 February 2021, from

Russ Berrie And Company, Inc. (2020) Retrieved from

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