by Graham Pierrepoint
Fidget spinners – love them or hate them – they are fast becoming this summer’s hottest playground craze, likely already sending teachers and parents gaga. The devices are easily bought and are surprisingly inexpensive – and despite a few health warnings being raised in the UK about light-up devices, they are continuing to captivate kids all over the world. The toy’s beginnings, however, are somewhat complicated – and the creator of the fidget spinner, Catherine Hettinger, previously held onto the patent on the device for some time – but since its expiry in 2005, the product has found its way to many a manufacturer’s catalogue.
Hettinger, according to The Independent, had in fact gotten inspiration for creating the toy having made a trip to Israel – where she learned that Palestinian children would take to pelting rocks at police officers in defiance. The fidget spinner, therefore, was born as a device to help distract children with pent-up energy and frustration – and while it may not have gone on to resolve peace in the Middle East, it has at least earned a solid place in popular culture after only a few months as a playground craze.
The origins of the fidget spinner go back further than many think, too – having been patented by Hettinger in 1993. That makes the device nothing particularly new – its US creator had in fact lost the patent in 2005 after attempting to sell her idea to various toy companies over the years. Since this time, they have of course burst into the mainstream – with the gizmo becoming a highly addictive toy which could be used to help create calm and to distract those at risk of breaking attention. There have been thousands of YouTube videos published on how to perform certain tricks with the toys, and you can buy them in a plethora of colors, styles and with a host of extra surprises. Need your fidget spinner to connect via Bluetooth? Of course you do – and now you can.
How does a playground craze truly take off? Fidget spinners are 25 years old next year – there really is no telling which gadgets and gizmos are likely to take off nor when. Those who grew up in the late 1990s may see a similarity with the resurgence of the yo-yo – and who knows if they themselves will come back around again?