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Photo Credit to Mick Haupt

This Saturday, June 6, is National Yo-Yo Day! We know that some time has probably passed since you’ve shown off your yo-yoing skills, but let us tell why and how it’s worth celebrating.

You might be surprised to learn that the world-famous Duncan Yo-Yo was produced in the Dairy State for most of its existence. The yo-yo first gained popularity in the 1930s. To handle the increase in demand, the Duncan Company began searching for an area with better access to Wisconsin’s hard maple trees. In 1946, they built a plant in Luck, Wisconsin, and were able to produce 3600 yo-yos per hour, earning the village the nickname, “Yo-Yo Capital of the World.” Today, you can still find yo-yos, but they, of course, aren’t nearly as popular as the toy industry has continued to modernize over time.  

We’ve said it once, and we’ll probably say it at least a dozen more times, but we are living in unprecedented times. For the past decade, technology has become an ingrained part of life, but during the coronavirus pandemic, most of our communication has been taking place primarily through video conferencing. The increase in screen-time has left many of us in need of a technology break. We thought it might be fun to take a look back at a brief history some of our favorite classic toys, in honor of the unofficial celebration:

  • Slinky – In 1943, Mechanical Engineer Richard James created the Slinky by accident. After working to develop springs that could necessary ship equipment steady at sea, he knocked a few samples of the shelf and watched them gracefully “walk” down instead of falling. He and his wife Betty devised a plan to turn the discovery into the next novelty toy.
  • Magic 8 Ball – The Magic 8 Ball is credited to Albert Carter, who grew up in Cincinnati, during a time when spiritualism was hitting its peak. Albert’s mother’s job as a Clairvoyant inspired him to create a fortune-telling device of his own. He forged a business partnership with Abe Bookman to mass-produce the toy. Unfortunately, he passed before seeing the product patented, but Bookman was able to perfect and patent the toy to what we know and love today.
  • Silly Putty – Here’s another example of a toy created by accident! Engineer James Wright worked for the US War Production Board during World War II to construct an inexpensive substitute for synthetic rubber. After he dropped boric acid into the mixture, he created a substance that was stretchier and bouncier than rubber. As a bonus, it could also pick up a perfect copy of print when flattened against a newspaper or comic book. The government wasn’t interested in his “nutty putty,” but partygoers loved the discovery.  

These are, of course, only four of a multitude of classic toys. What was your favorite toy as a child? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

This weekend, Lions Pride would like to encourage you to see if you still have one of these toys hiding in a box. There’s no better way to take a technology break than with a trip down Memory Lane.

Happy National Yo-Yo Day!