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Seriously, What's Up With These Fidget Spinners?

May 16, 2017 | Brendan Menapace

Are fidget spinners this generation’s pogs? By that, I mean they are a fad toy that one kid inevitably brings to class to show his friends, who all go and get their own, and then the teacher is forced to ban them from the classroom.

Seriously, where did these things come from? Aside from elementary and middle schools all over the country, videos are popping up on YouTube showing kids doing tricks with these little pieces of plastic with skateboard bearings in them.

(Image via Twitter)

(Image via Twitter)

But for real, where did they come from? And how did this happen so fast? That was my burning question. Did I miss the slow build-up to popularity, or were these really an overnight sensation?

Luckily, Time Money had some answers.

It turns out that the inventor, Catherine Hettinger, wanted to create something to occupy children’s brains, and a soothing toy to play with. (Her inspiration came in the form of children throwing rocks at police officers and passersby in Israel.)

To mimic that action, she first came up with a soft item resembling a rock that kids could throw without breaking windows or bones. She eventually landed on the idea of the fidget spinner—20 years ago. It wasn’t until her patent expired in 2005 that companies started using their own designs and selling them independently.

“It started as a way of promoting peace, and then I went on to find something that was very calming,” Hettinger told Time Money.

The toys, which can range in price from a few dollars to much, much more, make up almost all 20 of Amazon’s best sellers for toys. (Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and fidget cubes round out the rest.)

So, it’s no secret that people love them. But, there is one group of people who aren’t so thrilled about them: teachers.

It’s not hard to believe that pieces of plastic meant to distract the adolescent brain aren’t ideal for classroom settings. To quote one particular digital content editor’s mother, a 6th grade teacher: “Don’t even get me started on those things.”

Because of this, they’ve been banned from many classrooms and schools.

“It’s a distraction, it’s overused,” one source told WBNG. “It’s a lot like stimulants where some kids need them and a lot of kids don’t.”

For marketing professionals looking to launch an on-trend promotional campaign, now is the time to buy in on this super-hot craze.

“The culture we live in now—the times now—everyone has a need for fun,” Hettinger told Time Money. “People are realizing it, and it’s true.”

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