We Value Your Privacy

We and our partners use technology such as cookies on our site to personalise content and ads, provide social media features, and analyse our traffic. Click below to consent to the use of this technology across the web. You can change your mind and change your consent choices at anytime by returning to this site.

Update Consent
Loading ...

Facts About Yo-Yos

By Michael Brent ; Updated April 18, 2017
The yo-yo is one of the world's oldest toys.

The yo-yo is one of the most simple and enduring toys in history. Although the earliest known record of the yo-yo dates back to ancient Greece at about 500 B.C., the yo-yo's origins are unknown. However, the yo-yo itself hasn't changed significantly, and is still made from a string tied to a weighted disc.

Loading ...

Yo-Yos Throughout History

The yo-yo has been commonly used throughout the world. As of about 1700 or so, historical evidence of yo-yos can be found in China, India and throughout Europe. Yo-yos were particularly popular in France, and were widely used by members of that country's nobility during the period leading up to the French Revolution. The yo-yo has had a variety of different names in different countries. In Britain, it was known as "bandalore" and "quiz;" in France, "incroyable," "l'emigrette" and "coblentz;" in Greece, it was simply called "disc."

Yo-Yos in America

The yo-yo's modern popularity can be traced back to the Philippines. In 1916, an article in "Scientific American" referred to this wildly successful Filipino toy as a yo-yo, a rough translation of the Filipino slang term "come-come," meaning "to return." A Filipino immigrant named Pedro Flores brought the yo-yo to America, and altered the design slightly, tying the yo-yo's string a bit more loosely to allow the disc to remain spinning while the string was fully extended. This allowed creative yo-yo users to eventually develop a variety of different yo-yo tricks. In 1932, Donald F. Duncan bought the company from Flores and trademarked the word yo-yo.

Yo-Yo Trivia

The first yo-yo competition was held in London, England, in 1932. The winner was a 13-year-old named Harvey Lowe. The world's largest display of yo-yos is located in Chico, Calif., including the massive 256-pound "Big-yo." A yo-yo was taken into space aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in 1992. The most expensive yo-yo in history is one that was signed by former U.S. president Richard M. Nixon and presented to country singer Roy Acuff in 1974, which fetched a price of $16,029 at the Acuff estate auction. Since the 1930s, more than a half-billion yo-yos have been sold worldwide.

Famous Yo-Yo Users

In 17th century France, yo-yos were seen as stress-relievers, and there are reports that General Napoleon Bonaparte and his troops were playing with yo-yos before the decisive battle of Waterloo. Around the same time period, a painting dating from 1789 depicts the 4-year-old future king of France, Louis XVIII, playing with a yo-yo. Before presenting his yo-yo to Roy Acuff during a television broadcast from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, former president Richard Nixon performed a few yo-yo tricks. Comedian Tommy Smothers, one half of the Smothers Brothers comedy team, began adding yo-yo tricks to his comedy act in the 1980s, calling himself Yo-Yo Man, displaying a high level of yo-yo dexterity.

Loading ...
Loading ...