Duncan Yo-Yo – A Special Public Service Announcement from The Rube

In 2009 Columbia University did a survey of young adults and drug use. The end result was this: “Young people between the ages 12 to 17 who are frequently bored are 50 percent more likely to smoke, drink, get drunk and use illegal drugs.” Hey, boredom turned out to be the #1 gateway drug. Who knew?

Actually, I did. This isn’t the first time I’ve ever heard about this theory. Growing up in the “Just Say No” generation I knew that all drugs were bad. Hey, if Pee Wee Herman says that drugs are bad then you know what, DRUGS ARE BAD! (Yeah, Pee Wee. See the video below… don’t worry, I’ll wait.)

We’ve all heard stories about famous actors, comedians, or musicians that end up wasting their whole fortune trying to cure that boredom, some end up losing their lives. One famous person that comes to my mind is John Belushi, he did drugs to relive his stress and boredom. Maybe if he just picked up a yo-yo we wouldn’t be stuck with a less-talented brother… just sayin’.

Yo-yo’s have actually been around for a long time, the earliest versions were found in the Philippines made out of terracotta discs and used as a hunting weapon. Another mention of this “device of amusement” dates back to 440 BC on a Greek painted vase. Records from that time period make mention of this strictly being a “boys toy” that was given up to the Gods as a sign of manhood — isn’t learning fun?! The device reached it’s first historic fad in the late 1700’s with English high society and Indian royalty, but as with all trends this toy faded into obscurity until the 1920’s when it resurfaced in California as a fun toy from the Philippines. In 1929 the first yo-yo factory came to be, producing 300,000 a day (FUCK!).

Seeing how popular this simple toys was, entrepreneur Donald Duncan bought patents and brought the yo-yo back to worldwide status. Duncan yo-yos were very popular with enlisted soldiers fighting overseas in the 1940’s and was commonly used in trade with other soldiers stationed in Japan. After WWII the yo-yo craze faded away until its reintroduction as an old time “American” favorite in 1962. The toys were now made in shinny colorful plastics instead of painted wood.

With a launch of a nation wide television ad campaign (including Yo-Yo Man segments on the Smothers Brother Comedy Hour), regional trick contests, and the debut of its Butterfly model, the Duncan* yo-yo was back as the nation’s #1 selling toy! Since then, there’s been many colors and styles including tie-dyes and glow in the dark yo-yos. In the mid-80’s some toy companies came out with models that used a ball bearing core and counterweights which added more spin time to perform complicated string tricks. In the 90’s some even added springs that would automatically return the yo-yo, but nothing beats the natural release and return feeling of your traditional Duncan yo-yo.

It may not be a surprise at this point to mention that the Rube collects yo-yo’s (man, I do collect a lot of things) and I have tons of wood, plastic, gyro, and limited editions. I have ones with logos (including the official Pee-Wee Herman edition), glow in the dark, light up, and musical yo-yos that play a tune while spinning. I think my favorite one is a silver plated yo-yo, engraved with my initials (thanks Hunny). Right now I have the nice ones on display, but I buy a box of Duncans for daily use (and yes, I color coordinate with my daily attire), which lasts me about a year. I’m not a big trick guy but if I’m waiting in line at the movies or just had a bad day, spinning a yo-yo makes me happy.

Yo-yos are not only fun, they’re also soothing. After a hard day, I can put all of my stress and anger into my right hand and just throw all those emotions into a spinning plastic wheel. Then you feel it; the vibration of string and SNAP!, all of your problems go to the core of the yo-yo and shoots right off. There’s a second of peace while your stress reliever pauses, then comes back to your hand ready to shake off any more daily problems that may have. Before you decide chuckle at my zen like speech, please note that more doctors recommend these types of simple toys to help with high blood pressure and common addictions than medication. How do you think George Romero stopped smoking?

My point is, yo-yos are a relaxing and quick fix for boredom PLUS you can take them anywhere! Stress about that business meeting? Then break out a yo-yo! Outa smokes? Then Break out a yo-yo! Are you shy and have trouble making friends? Then break out a yo-yo! They’re an instant ice breaker. Remember, no woman can resist a man with a yo-yo!

*Note: Even though Duncan is the Rube’s favorite and preferred brand, we must state that Strange Kids Club and/or any of their contributors have not received any compensation for endorsement or promotion of this fine and wonderful product, BUT if any of the big wigs at Nordic Group happen to love this anti-drug/pro yo-yo article… well you know what to do.

Written by The Rube

The Rube is co-owner of Rusty Quarters Retro Arcade & Museum in Minneapolis, MN. He is also a Special Effects Artist, Master Chef, and Multiple Threadless Design Winner. Other than writing reviews and doodling, he enjoys watching bad movies, building monster model kits, and collecting games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

70 posts