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Everything You've Wondered About Fidget Spinners

You couldn’t walk down the street or into a classroom in 2017 without seeing someone whizzing a fidget spinner in their hands. The small toys went from relative obscurity to being one of the most popular fidget toys in the market overnight. The fidget spinner was the topic of breaking news pieces and even made it onto Time Inc’s Top 10 Toys of 2017 list (in spot number two, no less).

What is a fidget spinner?

A fidget spinner is a small object made of plastic and lightweight metal. The fidget toy is a three-pronged object with the three prongs rotating around a ball bearing at the center. The fidget spinner is flat and lightweight, allowing the three circular prongs to rotate very quickly around the center.


Fidget spinners come in a variety of colors and patterns, but all share the common trait of having spokes rotate quickly around the center piece. Stars such as Rita Ora and Kendall Jenner have been photographed using and playing with a fidget spinner.


Wondering why people want to play with fidget spinners? We cover why people fidget and more in “What Are Fidget Toys and Where Did They Come From?”

Who invented the fidget spinner?

There is some debate about who invented the fidget spinner. While the first patent for a spinning toy was filed in 1997, Scott McCoskery was the one who came out with a spinning object most similar to the well-known fidget spinner in 2015.


There are many instances of objects similar to today’s popularized version of the fidget spinner throughout the last 100 years. The earliest American patent for a spinning toy was held by Catherine Hettinger. She held the patent for eight years, but surrendered it in 2005 because she could not pay the required fees.


McCoskery was the next person to develop a spinning object, called the Torqbar. The Torqbar is a two pronged device, also connected via a ball bearing in the center. It’s typically of much higher quality than its fidget spinner counterparts, with a dramatically higher price tag. While you can find a fidget spinner on Amazon for a couple bucks, Torqbars start at $139 each.


Within a year of releasing his product, Torqbar knockoffs taking the form of the fidget spinner we know today started popping up everywhere. 

The history of the fidget spinner.

Catherine Hettinger filed the first spinning toy patent in 1997, but the patent lasted within eight years. Scott McCoskery released the Torqbar in 2015 and started to file for a patent, but was unsuccessful. Knockoff Torqbars that are reminiscent of the current fidget spinners began popping up everywhere. Fidget spinners hit mass fame in the spring of 2017, becoming the second most popular toy of the year.

How fast does a fidget spinner spin?

Mathematician Matt Parker found that a fidget spinner can spin up to nearly 3750 rpm. That means that fidget spinners can spin up to nearly 10 miles per hour.


Want to learn more? Check out mathematician Parker’s YouTube Video In his video, 

How much does a fidget spinner cost?

Low end fidget spinners usually cost $2, but custom fidget spinners can cost upwards of $800 depending on materials.

Fidget spinner alternatives

While fidget spinners were all the craze in 2017, there are many different stress and fidgeting toys that you can use. You aren’t limited to cheap plastic doodads, but can invest in quality, stylish fidget toys for your desk and personal life. Check out some of our favorite products below to shop for fidget spinner alternatives:

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