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Enjoy National Yo-Yo Day

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Hey, you Yo-Yos!

If you’ve mastered the art of ‘walking the dog’ or ‘skinning the cat’ then there’s a good chance that you already know, tomorrow is National Yo-Yo Day! Anybody can perform the predictable rise and fall of a yo-yo, but (as Gretchen Grundler learned in an episode of the classic Saturday morning cartoon, ‘Recess’) it takes true skill to learn ‘the secret of yo’.

One of the oldest toys in existence, the Yo-Yo has been around for thousands of years. It dates back all the way to 500 B.C. and maybe even before THAT! The ancient Greeks started making their yo-yos out of clay from the earth.kid yoyoing

It seems like every kid of every generation has owned or at least held a yo-yo at some point in their life—it’s a pretty popular toy! In fact, the yo-yo has never been more popular than it is now. So how did a two-and-a-half-thousand-year-old toy maintain (as well as actually increase) its popularity over such a long span of time?

Well, it’s more recent history begins in 1915 by seeking out the origin of its name. See, the name yo-yo didn’t stem from the English language at all.

It’s actually the name it goes by in Tagalog, the language that they speak in the Philippines. When one Pedro Flores came to America from the Philippines, he was suddenly struck with the vision to mass-produce his favorite toy from back home and market it under its old familiar name. Before that, the western world called it a ‘bandalore’. No wonder it didn’t really catch on until after Mr. Flores.

Another big reason for the yo-yo’s success in more recent times is owed to an inventor and entrepreneur of the 1930s named Donald Duncan. This is the guy who, after buying out Pedro Flores, started the myth that yo-yos were once used as weapons. While yo-yos may be the furthest thing from a weapon, the people loved the idea of this tall tale and the yo-yo’s popularity skyrocketed.

We know better today than to think that this age-old toy was ever used as a weapon, but if you get really good you can amaze all your friends and family with the tricks you’ve learned. Yo-yo’s not about tricks, though. It’s about hard work and discipline—that’s how you come to find ‘the secret of yo’.

Enjoy National Yo-Yo- Day, yo-yoers! And as always, thanks for reading.


- John

Posted in History Lessons


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