Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Yo-Yo Pa

by Connie Cortright

Yo-yos were a part of everyone's life when I was growing up. It was amazing to see all the different tricks that could be accomplished with those small toys. Yo-yos have been around for centuries in some cultures, then named "bandalore", so what do they have to do with this blog's era?

Flores demonstrating his Yo-yo
The 1920s-30s brought a big change in the basic yo-yo resulting in a yo-yo fad. Pedro Flores, an immigrant from the Philipines, redesigned the basic yo-yo by using a continuous string, twice as long as the final yo-yo's length. The string was folded in half, with the axle of the yo-yo in the fold, and twisted up. This looped slip-string left the yo-yo able to spin freely at it's longest point - making it "sleep", before recoiling into the hand. Prior to this time, the string of yo-yos were tied to the axle using a knot so the toy could only be extended and returned again.

In 1928, Flores started the Yo-yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara, California. By the end of the next year, he had opened two more factories and was producing 300,000 units per day. He knew when he had a good thing going. He cashed in when he was at the top of his game and sold his business to Donald F. Duncan for more than $250,000, which was a fortune back then. However, Flores wanted yo-yos to continue to be a part of his life, so he became a key promoter in the new company.

Donald Duncan
Duncan formed the Genuine Duncan Yo-Yo Company in 1932 and trademarked the term "Yo-yo", forcing any other toy company to rename similar products with such names as "whirl-a-gigs" or "twirlers". Duncan's forte was marketing, which he used to expand the sales of Yo-yos not only to the US, but other countries as well. He sponsored Yo-yo contests, promoting the newly discovered tricks that the "Flores Yo-yo" could now do. The first World Yo-yo contest was held in London in 1932- in the midst of the Depression.

The Duncan Yo-yo became a fad because of the promotional campaigns that Duncan held over the years. Besides yo-yo contests, he would contract with newspapers and magazines to promote his product, selling this toy to the parents.

The Duncan Toy Company came to Wisconsin in 1946 by opening a factory in Luck, Wisconsin, located in the northwest corner of our state. This small town became known as the "Yo-Yo Capital of the World" because it produced 3,600 yo-yos per hour back then.

In a 1965 trademark case, Duncan Yo-Yo Company lost the trademark for the name yo-yo. It was argued that the term was in such common usage by then that one company could not monopolize the name. The Duncan family sold the company shortly after since they decided that the competition would ruin the company.

I haven't seen any yo-yos lately, but then I'm a grandma and probably wouldn't come into contact with people who still play with them today, but I'm sure they are much fancier and more complex than they were when I was a kid.

When's the last time you've seen someone play with a yo-yo?

Information taken from Wikipedia and Pedro Flores (inventor).

No comments:

Post a Comment