Find out how Adam & Eve got its start back in 1971 and grew to become America’s largest adult retailer as the company celebrates our 50th anniversary.

Adam & Eve Hits the Big 5-Ohhh!

Adam & Eve started in 1971 with a simple goal: help make your sex life better. Over the past 50 years, we’ve given millions of customers an easy and discreet way to buy sex toys – making their sex lives happier and healthier in the process. Mission accomplished.

Not many college students can turn a paper into a multimillion-dollar business, but that’s just how Adam & Eve got its start.

At the time, condoms weren’t easy to buy. They were sold mostly in doctor’s offices and medical clinics, making them hard to get, especially for unmarried people. Phil Harvey based his master’s thesis on making condoms easier to buy. And he placed mail-order ads in college newspapers to test his theory. Sales started pouring in – leading to Adam & Eve’s birth.

Phil quickly created a mail-order catalog to reach even more people and soon started selling sex toys based on customer feedback. Adam & Eve began appearing in mailboxes from Maine to California, allowing people to buy adult items easily and discreetly from their couch. For many, it was the first time they’d even seen a sex toy – let alone bought or used one! But that growing popularity caught the eyes of the U.S. Justice Department.

In 1986, armed law enforcement officials raided Adam & Eve. They questioned employees and ransacked the building. “Our offices resembled a battlefield after a battle,” Phil wrote in his book The Government vs. Erotica. They charged Phil with disseminating obscenity under an obscure law from the 1870s. He was found completely innocent in a jury trial, but that only made the government more determined to shut down the company. Federal officials worked with local prosecutors all over the country to launch dozens of obscenity cases, trying to drown Adam & Eve in legal bills and red tape. Most people would have backed down, but Phil fought back with a civil lawsuit against the Justice Department. After spending millions of taxpayer dollars and years of effort, the Justice Department agreed to drop their charges if Phil dropped his lawsuit and pleaded guilty to using the wrong font size on a mailing label.

Throughout it all, Adam & Eve has remained devoted to our customers and community. We routinely boast the highest level of customer satisfaction in the industry thanks to our hard-working employees and passionate service. We’ve donated tens of millions of dollars to a wide variety of local and national charities, including family violence prevention centers, Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, the American Cancer Society and animal shelters. We’re proud to help make the world a happier place one sex toy at a time. And with your help, we can keep doing it for 50 more years!