Yo-Yo: From Weapon to Toy, A Hilarious History

After China or the Philippines, where a stone at the end of a string was used as a hunting weapon (inspired by the language of the chameleon), the yoyo is "officially" represented on Greek potteries in the 5th century BC. One of the oldest toys in the world…

It is only at the end of the XVIIIth century that it appears in Europe: in England first, adulated by the young aristocrats under the name of bandalore. Luxury toy, the noblest materials are used for its manufacture (precious wood, and even glass or crystal!) and its decoration (amber, mother-of-pearl, pearls, precious stones…). Two years after the French Revolution, the yoyo crosses the Channel imported by the nobles having fled during this period. It is then called Émigrette, game of Coblence or Joujou of Normandy…

The yoyo will cross the Atlantic for a first patent in 1866, and others that followed until 1911. But it is especially in the 20s, thanks to Pedro Flores first of all that the yoyo is rediscovered. His Filipino yo-yo, whose string wound around the axis allows many figures, comes straight from the Philippines where it is a national sport. In response to the enthusiasm of the younger generation, Flores invested in a workshop to industrially manufacture his wooden models, which until then had been carved by hand.

So, let's wrap this up with a word of caution: the next time you play with a yo-yo, remember its ancient history, and watch your fingers!

In 1930, the name yo-yo was registered by American Donald Franklin Duncan, who bought Flores' company. Associated with the giant of the press Randolph Hearst, he launches competitions for the children and representations in all the country: the yoyo mania continues, helped by numerous advertising campaigns. In 1955, Duncan innovated by producing plastic yo-yos through the Flambeau Plastic Company. The yoyo name became public ten years later. Flambeau bought out Duncan who went bankrupt, and continued to produce only synthetic models.

The yoyo comes back in force in the 80's, first with Thom Khun who patents a customizable yoyo thanks to its removable hemispheres…

… but even more, the Roll'in, a small advertising yoyo distributed since 1985 by brands such as Coca Cola, revives the phenomenon.

This marks the end of the yoyo relaxation for a practice and more technical models: championship of the United States at the beginning of 80, yoyo with ball bearing in 84 improved in 90 by Khun.

At the end of the 90's, and following Duncan's example, the Japanese game company Bandai revived the movement with events and competitions. Plastic gave way to aluminum and came back in 2000 in a more technical material; it became disengageable (it can turn in freewheel). Today, the yoyo is a real performance sport with "styles" for ever more impressive demonstrations, including the "non-responsive" where you have to make a particular gesture so that the yoyo goes up in your hand.

How long ago it was considered a stress reliever!