Traditional Kids’ Games series (5) – YO-YOs
June 1st is International Children’s Day. This week we will look into the games that children played before the age of computer and arcade games. Yes, lest we forget, there was a time when kid’s fun didn’t cause obesity or cost a lot of money. Kids used to interact with each other and laugh (out loud) together. They stayed active and sweat it out. They took turns. They learned that the only way to get better was to practice, practice and practice some more.
Today I feature the Yo-Yo. Do you ever wonder who invented it? Do you wonder how long it’s been around? I am just so thrilled to share with you what I have discovered through my search on the internet. I didn’t know that somebody from my home country had something to do with this fascinating classic toy.
|Mr Yodel Handpainted Yo-Yo Strings
Yo-Yo: Who invented it?
D.F. Duncan Sr. was the co-patent holder of a four-wheel hydraulic automobile brake and the marketer of the first successful parking meter. He was also the genius behind the first premium incentive where you sent in two cereal box tops and received a toy rocket ship. However, Duncan is best known for being responsible for promoting the first great yoyo fad in the United States.
Duncan was not the inventor of the yoyo; they have been around for over twenty-five hundred years. In fact the yoyo or yo-yo is considered the second oldest toy in history, the oldest being the doll. In ancient Greece, the toy was made of wood, metal and terra cotta. The Greeks decorated the two halves of the yoyo with pictures of their gods. As a right of passage into adulthood Greek children often gave up their toys and placed them on the family alter to pay homage.
Around 1800, the yoyo moved into Europe from the Orient. The British called the yoyo the bandalore, quiz or the Prince of Wales toy. The French used the name incroyable or l’emigrette. However, it is a Tagalog word, the native language of the Philippines, and means “come back”. In the Philippines, the yoyo was used as a weapon for over 400 hundred years. Their version was large with sharp edges and studs and attached to thick twenty-foot ropes for flinging at enemies or prey.
People in the United States started playing with the British bandalore or yoyo in the 1860s. It was not until the 1920s that Americans first heard the word yoyo. Pedro Flores, a Philippine immigrant, began manufacturing a toy labeled with that name. Flores became the first person to mass-produce toy yoyos, at his small toy factory located in California.
Duncan saw the Flores toy, liked it, bought the rights from Flores in 1929, and then trademarked the name Yo-Yo.
- Donald Duncan also worked out a deal with the newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst to get free advertising in Hearst’s newspapers. In exchange, Duncan held competitions and the entrants were required to bring a quantity of new subscriptions for the newspaper as their entry fee.
- Duncan’s massive factory produced 3,600 of the toys every hour making the factory’s hometown of Luck, Wisconsin the YoYo Capital of the World.
- Duncan’s early media blitzes were so successful that in Philadelphia alone, three million units sold during a month-long campaign in 1931.
- Yoyo sales reached its highest peak in 1962, when Duncan Yo-Yo sold 45 million units.
- The yoyo continues today, its latest honor is being the first toy in outer space.