If it seems like yo-yos have been around forever, that’s because they have; we’re talking over 2,000 years! Some believe it all started in ancient Greece, but modern yo-yos likely came from the Philippines. In fact, the word “yo-yo” first appeared in a Filipino dictionary in 1860. But they didn’t become popular stateside until the 1930s. Pedro Flores (of Filipino descent) began mass producing yo-yos in 1928. After holding some promotional competitions, he caught the eye of Donald F. Duncan Sr, who thought these yo-yo things were awesome! Duncan bought Flores out, hired him to run the marketing campaigns, and the rest is National Yo-yo Day history.
Today the Duncan Toy Company is synonymous with this iconic toy. However, it wasn’t Duncan’s or Flores’ idea to hold a National Yo-Yo Day. No, that honor goes to Daniel Volk — a yo-yo pro whose talent helped spread the toy’s popularity. After all, he starred in “The Yo-Yo-Yo Man Instructional Video” alongside the Smothers Brothers.
In order to pay tribute to his employer, Volk founded National Yo-yo Day on what he thought was Duncan’s birthday: June 6. As it turns out, Duncan’s birthday is actually June 8, but hey, it’s the thought that counts. Anyway, National Yo-yo Day has been held on June 6 since 1990, so why stop a good thing? We’re certainly not going to. So, channel your inner child and let’s start celebrating!
National Yo-Yo Day timeline
Yo-yos are made out of wood, metal, or painted disks.
The yo-yo is considered the second-oldest toy ever and is patented by James L. Haven and Charles Hettrich.
Modern yo-yos in the United States have the string looped only around the axle.
The yo-yo becomes the first toy to go to outer space.
National Yo-Yo Day Activities
Have a yo-yo party!
Think of this like a yo-yo pot luck. Of course, everyone can still bring some chow (we'd recommend it), but the key is to show off a unique yo-yo. These could be vintage, new, or if you happen to be an fanatic, custom. Heck, even a yo-yo-inspired treat would do the trick. You'd be surprised at the types of cakes and cookies people can come up with.
Hold a yo-yo competition
If you want to have a friendly or not-so-friendly competition, this is the day to do it. Everyone can show off their best tricks, and the audience can vote on the winner. If you want to sweeten the deal, think about adding some yo-yo related prizes. Yes, these could be the toys themselves; however, don't forget about those yo-yo-inspired treats. People love their cake, sometimes more than they love yo-yos (weird, right?).
Post the day's happenings on social media
A lot happens on National Yo-Yo Day, so you'll want to document all the fun. Share pics and videos of the top tricks, yo-yo designs, and any creative treats. If the score hasn't been settled before you upload, social media can be a good way to put an end to the debate. Polls are easy enough to make, so let your friends and family vote.
Why We Love National Yo-Yo Day
We get to be kids again
Remember the yo-yo craze back in the 90s? Even if you wanted to forget, it's not like you could. Everything was branded as "extreme," which made things extremely memorable. Couple that with TV commercials that showed off tricks, and you've got the perfect recipe for nostalgia. It was a simple time when doing "walk-the-dog" made you look cool. Who wouldn't want to recapture a little of that magic? And you can share that magic with the kids in your family. Just don't get mad if they outshine you ("walk-the-dog" is so '90s).
The great "yo-yo" outdoors
Yo-yo's aren't really indoor toys. If you were one of the kids who thought so, your parents are probably still reeling from the damage. But aside from that, playing outside gives you and your yo-yo some much needed room to breathe. No one likes being cooped up on a beautiful summer day, but the heat can sometimes stop you from getting out there. With the added motivation to work on some new tricks, people will have to fight to get you back indoors. Your boss shouldn't be one of those people, so your lunch break may not be the best time to perfect "cat's cradle."
It gives us a chance to brush up on history
For starters, did you know that they used to be called names like bandalores, Jou-Jous, and quizzes? Not only that, yo-yos were primarily made of wood until 1955 when Duncan partnered with Flambeau. Even if none of this comes up at trivia, you'll have bragging rights as the yo-yo expert of your crew.
National Yo-Yo Day dates