The yo-yo isn’t really a fifties thing but it did have a major resurgence in the early sixties. To track its orgins however you must go further back…a lot futher!.
There is some historical debate on this but as early as 500 BC the yo-yo is depicted in Greek drawings and some historians believe that it dates back as far as 100 BC.
Back in our century it was 1928 when a Filipino American named Pedro Flores opened the Yo-yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara, California. Shortly thereafter the Company was purchased by the Duncan Toy Company and renamed the Duncan O-BOY.
In the mid sixties a landmark trademark case went against the “yo-yo” brand name and the Duncan’s sold the Company in 1968 to its plastics supplier, Flambeau Products who owns it today.
The renewed popularity of the yo-yo in the sixties was partially attributable to the use of television advertising for the first time. The resulting creation of a “new” fad and the corresponding spike in sales from $2 million to $7 million a year proved just how effective TV advertising could be.
The modern toy uses aerodynamic weight distribution and a clutch mechanism that replaced the standard axle.
In the 1930’s teams of traveling yo-yo men teaching tricks and holding competitions throughout the US and Western Europe so popularized the competitive nature of the “sport” that it was recommended to the International Olympic Committee as a new Olympic sport.
The yo-yo has been to space twice, once on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1985 and again in 1992 aboard Atlantis
In 1968, Abbie Hoffman was cited for contempt of Congress for “walking the dog” in an effort to entertain the House Subcommittee on Un-American Activities