The fidget spinner, an object taking both stores and social media by storm, has an unusual history and purpose. Chances are you’ve seen the whirring, spinning piece of plastic in public, probably gripped tightly in the hand of a child. Strangely enough, fidget spinners are becoming increasingly stylized and popular.
Whether debated on Twitter or customized and sold by top celebrities, these devices are even beginning to gain an adult following. Love them or hate them, it is undeniable that fidget spinners are one of the most popular objects of this generation. This list outlines 10 facts you probably didn’t know about the trending spinners.
10. The Creator
Two decades ago, chemical engineer Catherine Hettinger was struck with a bolt of inspiration while visiting her sister in Israel. She had heard about young children throwing rocks at people passing on the street in Israel and immediately began to think of a device that could distract children and provide potential stress relief.
Another motivation was to bond with her daughter who had myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disorder that results in weakened muscles. Following her return to her home in Orlando, Hettinger designed the first fidget spinner. Little did she know that her invention would spark one of the largest toy phenomena ever.
9. The Patent Problem
As distributors struggle to meet the increasing demand for fidget spinners, you would think that creator Catherine Hettinger would be earning an overwhelming profit. Unfortunately, she has not made any money on the contemporary spike in spinner sales.
This is because she could not afford to pay the annual $400 fee to maintain the patent and subsequently lost it in 2005. She is quoted as saying, “I just didn’t have the money. It’s very simple.”
Other businesses are now free to produce and sell the product as they please. Though she can make no profit from the devices, she is “just thrilled” at the expansive use. Needless to say, she has preserved a positive attitude and understands the difficulties of being an inventor.
She acknowledges the challenges and comments that she has “watched other inventors mortgage their houses and lose a lot. [ . . . ] It is hard.” Upon being asked repeatedly if the success of her invention aggravates her, she responds that she is just pleased that people understand and can use something she designed.
If Hettinger would have paid the $400, she would now be worth millions of dollars in the midst of “the biggest, fastest-moving trend that I have ever seen in the toy industry,” said Jackie Breyer, editorial director for The Toy Insider. But Hettinger has not made a single dime!