The yo-yo is a toy that often dies down but manages to come back. This is usually through revolutionary evolutions of the toy itself or through evolutions on how it’s played. Because of this, the toy always seems to be a contemporary product.
Unknown to many, the yo-yos, although not called that until the 1920s, are actually the second oldest toy. It dates back to ancient Greece, China and Egypt, and possibly different variations in other cultures as well. Because of its presence in many ancient references, artifacts, paintings, etc., it’s extremely difficult to pinpoint where and when the toy actually originated.
Yo-yos and the Philippines
Numerous sources cite that the Philippines were one of the inventors of the yo-yo. Citing how it was used as a weapon to hunt and kill animal prey for food and not a toy. This has since been debunked for lack of evidence supporting it. However, the Philippines did contribute to the toy’s rich history. In an attempt to replicate the toy, Filipinos hand-carved their version from a single piece of wood.
This Filipino yo-yo is one whole piece instead of a piece that can be disassembled. It was the first one where the string was not directly tied to its axle and was instead looped around it. This allowed this version to spin or sleep at the end of the string, creating multiple trick possibilities.
Pedro Flores and the Flores yo-yo
The confusion regarding the invention of the yo-yo by a Filipino links to Pedro Flores who brought the Philippine version to the US. He worked as a bellboy and used the yo-yo to play some tricks in his free time. This drew a crowd that was noticed by Donald Duncan. Together, they manufactured the Flores yo-yo and traveled throughout the US to teach and demonstrate tricks in order to promote the toy. As the popularity of the toy increased, they attempted to patent the use of the word “yo-yo”, but the toy eventually became so popular that it was no longer a brand, but it was THE toy.
To this day, yo-yos are still part of different cultures, with new types and tricks being developed. Regardless of whether you intend to compete or just have fun with it, the yo-yo is certainly a toy that can be enjoyed by any age.Share this article: