One of the first toys a kid used to get was a yo-yo. Everyone has played with a yo-yo, correct? Two pieces of wood, plastic, or metal connected by an axle and suspended with string made for a habit-forming toy if ever there was one.
Did you ever find yourself just yo-yoing for the heck of it every now and then? I know I’d just sit in my room playing with a yo-yo and never even doing any spectacular tricks. Just yo-ing. Up and down, up and down… Excuse me, I’ll be right back.
Okay, I had to get that out of my system. I’m actually sad while I write this as I’ve lost my favorite yo-yo. It was a yellow Duncan yo-yo with a spiral design and it was flawless. Nothing allowed me to perform a Sleeper like that yellow Duncan yo-yo. But let’s hear some history of the yo-yo, not just my memories boiling over.
From Turtle Shells to Your Grandpa’s Yo-yo
The yo-yo first appeared somewhere around 500 BC. Yeah, this is a toy with staying power. Anyway, the actual word “yo-yo” comes from (well Webster’s has a hunch it comes from), the Philippine Ilokano word “yoyo,” which meant “come-come” or “return.”
In 1928 a Filipino American named Pedro Flores opened the first yo-yo company named (you ready for this?), the Yo-Yo Manufacturing Company. Catchy. Along comes Donald Duncan between 1929 and 1932 to buy the company and name of the product from Flores, spending a fortune during the Depression era at $250,000.
Sadly, the company went under and no one ever heard of the yo-yo again.
Duncan Reigns Supreme
Psych! Duncan is synonymous with the word yo-yo for a reason: Because the best yo-yos were made by Duncan’s toy company and arguably still are. Just head down to the official website and take a look at some of the models they’ve got available.
I’m sure you experienced at some point a group of “professional” yo-yoers coming to your elementary school at some point. I know it happened to me and my wife and pretty much everyone I know. Some radical (we used to use the word “radical” all the time), dudes showed up and demonstrated tricks with their yo-yos that by all logic were entirely impossible. The very next day everyone at school had a yo-yo and a few tricks to show off, such as “Walk the Dog,” “The Four-Leaf Clover,” and the classic from Ninja Turtles 2, the “Around the World” (which wasn’t so much a trick as it was swinging the yo-yo around your head to knock out street thugs).
For the classic red Butterfly model you’ll only be spending maybe $4 at max, though for something really smooth and top of the line prepare to throw down $39.99 for the Metal Zero (though the money won’t come back to you like the yo-yo does).
Depending on your interest you can spend next to nothing or a whole heck of a lot but either way you’re giving yourself a habit that’s safer and cheaper than smoking, plus you look cooler doing it.