Nerd Talk: Where did all these fidget spinners come from?

If you're a parent, you've probably had a head start over the rest of us noobs.

May 25, 2017
Fidget spinner


Unless you’re the guy down the hall who is proud of himself for “getting into fidget spinners months ago,” you likely only knew about these distracting simple toys if you have kids. In my day we had snap bracelets, or troll dolls, or koosh balls (that means something totally different in weed-legal states). Oh, we also had that game where you flick a quarter across a desk trying to make your friend’s knuckles bleed … bloody knuckles.

There’s always some simple Tamagotchi keychain pet that will briefly grab everyone’s attention, but this ADD industry is blowing up like a planet killing super weapon who just took a torpedo to the exhaust pooper. And it will be gone just as quickly.

Fidget Spinners, usually a piece of metal that spins around a ball bearing like you would find in an old rollerblade wheel, are a simple use of physics. They just spin stuff around a center point that you grasp between your pointer finger and thumb.

They’re often marketed as a way for easily distracted children, or those with debilitating learning problems to transfer that nervous energy into a handheld device. Oh, like a modern set of those creepy testicle sized silver balls that weird 90’s people loved. “Look at me, I’m David Bowie (RIP) from that creepy movie.” 

David Bowie..... Just playing with his balls

After making jokes about “the original fidget spinner” and finding horrifying examples online, I had my eyes opened to the depth of the trend.

The original fidget spinner

Don’t try that. But do try this (and send gifs):

The original fidget spinner

I’m realizing that the spinner bubble is expanding rapidly.

I wrongly assumed they were just cheap toys shipping from China full of “poisonous if ingested” chemicals but the wormhole on these dumb things goes deep. First, there are multiple subreddits dedicated to people posting about their spinners. Second, they aren’t new. Fidget spinners first appeared in 1993 when a woman battling an autoimmune disease filed a patent for a spinner device that she began selling in… Florida. Yeah, I thought “wow, seriously?”, too. After some time, and a lack of interest from major toy makers, she let the patent lapse.

Another dude, claims to have used the same soothing spinning of a ball bearing to make his own spinning device that he began selling on Seattle-based site a few years ago. Quickly, others joined in building their own and suddenly an underground started developing.

Finally, anyone who has ever taken apart a wheel to find the ball bearing has likely given it a spin. Or even simpler: a freakin’ hulahoop. It’s just a fidget spinner in it’s most basic form.

What I found while looking at the reddits and the googles, the world of custom and for-purchase spinners seems limitless. Seriously, is overwhelming.

Here are a few that I think are rad:

PS Controller:

--Follow @top.fidgets for more spinner videos! --Do you like this spinner? Answer "I like it" in the comments. - via: @fullthrottleoriginals

A post shared by Top Spinner Videos -- (@top.fidgets) on

El Capitan is a molecule spinner:

⚓️ EL CAPITAN Hand Spinner is now back in stock! Grab one ---- | link in bio

A post shared by Unquiet Hands----Fidget Spinners (@unquiethands) on

For all you Rebel scum:


Presenting... BACONSPINNER v1

Here's an awesome Instagram for more variety.

Turns out doggos don’t much like them:

But this dude who put one to good use playing an otherwise tiring run on the bass does:

Still waiting for someone to 3D print the station logo into a spinner...