Y is for Yo-Yo

Another double letter score! This one is kind of borderline for a double letter score since the word is actually hyphenated. I wanted to get one more in before the A to Z challenge was over.

The word yo-yo was derived from the Philippine Ilokano language. Basically, it’s a toy with a spool shaped axis connected to two disks with a string connected to it.

First made popular in the 1920s, the toy itself was created in ancient Greece many years before that. The day-to-day toys that the kids actually played with were made out of wood or metal. There were special ones made out of terra-cotta and decorated with mythological characters. These were offered to the gods when children came of age.

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Pedro Flores opened the Yo-Yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara, California in 1928. His business started with a dozen hand-made toys. It became much bigger than it started out as, growing to 600 employees and 300,000 units made daily.

A year later in 1929, Donald F. Duncan purchased the company, rights and assets and transferred it all into a new company called Duncan Toy Company in 1932. In that same year, yo-yo first became a registered trademark.

With a decline in sales after WWII, Duncan launched a comeback in 1962 through TV ads. Those efforts kept the company going for the next six years, but due to financial issues, Duncan sold his company to Flambeau, Inc in 1968. Ironically, this was the company that had made Duncan’s plastic model yo-yos since 1955. They continue to own the company to this day.

I had a Duncan brand one with a  jewel on either side of a black wheel. I remember trying to learn how to do it. I spent a lot of time letting the yo-yo go down to the end of the string and not being able to wind it back up. That’s called looping. But once I learned how to do it, I couldn’t stop playing with it. I did get to the point of putting it into a sleeper, which is sending it towards the floor and letting it spin. I don’t think I ever really learned how to do the walking the dog trick, but remember spending quite a bit of time trying!

Mastering yo-yo tricks seems to be a pretty popular thing to do. The World Yo-Yo contest is held in Orlando, Florida every year and there’s an International competition as well. So, there are people out there than can do some pretty amazing things with that toy that most of us only tried to play with as kids.

What did you think?

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