History of Fidget Spinners

Alyssa Mertes

Kyrsten Ledger

Promo Expert

Published: May 25th, 2018

Updated: April 4th, 2019

You know when you’re at the store and waiting to check out, but all the stuff by the register catches your eye? We’re willing to bet that one of those toys in line is a fidget spinner. Whether you have children or not, fidget spinners are bound to draw your attention and entice you to buy them with their sleek design, ability to entertain, and affordability.

Why do you love fidget spinners? When and why were they invented? Let’s explore the interesting history of fidget spinners!

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I would spend a lot of time in long meetings and conference calls and just fidget with whatever and I thought one day there should be a device specifically for what I am doing.

– Scott McCoskery, Inventor of Fidget Spinners YouTube

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History of Fidget Spinners Timeline

Explore the interesting history of fidget spinners in this exclusive timeline. From a plastic prototype to a highly durable spinner, see the evolution of fidget spinners from the early 1600s to today.

  • 1993

    Catherine Hettinger, Spinning Toy Source: classicspinner.com

    Catherine Hettinger filed a patent for her “spinning toy” idea. Although her invention looks nothing like today’s fidget spinners, she created a toy that was entertaining for children and adults.

  • 1997

    Spinning Toy Patents Source: patentimages.com

    Hettinger’s patent was approved for her invention described as a spinning toy with a center dome structure. Hettinger’s toy looked like a Frisbee, with the middle more popped up than today's spinners. Shortly after receiving the patent, Catherine pitched her toy to Hasbro. Hasbro later sent her a rejection letter.

    2005: Catherine Hettinger didn’t pay the maintenance fee on her patent and it expired. Hettinger may not be today’s fidget spinner creator, but her invention is widely recognized as one of the first concepts.

  • 2013

    torquebar Source: static.seattletimes.com

    Scott McCoskery (pictured right) designed and invented the Torqbar. Unlike Hettinger’s spinner, which spins with your finger in the center of the device, the Torqbar is spun using a ball joint and bearing mechanism, similar to today’s classic fidget spinner.

  • 2015

    Torquebar Source: patentimages.com

    The Torqbar was released to the public via a YouTube video in September 2015. Shortly after, a patent was filed by MD Engineering LLC, owned and operated by Scott McCoskery and Paul de Herrera.

    Late 2016: Many third-party companies started creating cheaper knock-offs of the Torqbars. The manufacturers used the original concept, added another prong, and changed the material to hard plastic. This made fidget spinners more appealing to children and not just for adults.

  • 2017

    Fidget Spinner Source: qualitylogoproducts.com

    Fidget spinners became the hottest craze making Amazon’s top 20 best-selling toys list. This simple device remained popular alongside other toys such as Hatchimals, drones, and many electronics.

    2017- 2018: Companies used the fidget spinner craze to promote their brands. Disney used its characters to craft one-of-a-kind spinners such as Iron Man and a Frozen snowflake that lights up. Other companies, such as Wal-Mart, Target, and ironically Hasbro, largely distribute today’s fidget spinners.
  • 2018

    Iron Man Fidget Spinner Source: /lumiere-a.akamaihd.net

    USPTO grants a patent to Scott McCoskery for his Torqbar. McCoskery is labeled as the true inventor of today’s fidget spinners since his patent shows a more accurate definition and appearance than Hettinger’s version.

A Brief History of Fidgeting

Dating as far back as our earliest ancestors, we were always on the move hunting and trying to survive. Fast forward to today and our lifestyles have drastically changed, but the need to move is still in our DNA. Toys invented decades and even centuries ago involve simple hand movements that are still used today. Spinning tops, invented in the United States in the 1990s, date back to 8th century BC.; yo-yos, invented in the United States in 1930, date back to 500 BC.; and Rubix Cubes, similar to the recently developed Fidget Cubes, were invented in 1974. These early inventions look nothing like today’s fidget spinners, but the common goal of controlling our fidgeting remains the same today as it did centuries ago. People have been making tools and toys for thousands of years, and fidgeting has been a part of our ancestry for a long, long time.


The Science Behind Fidget Spinners

Believe it or not there is a scientific explanation for why we fidget. Fidgeting is a natural response for when we are anxious or bored. This simple movement helps positively channel our emotions by relieving stress and tension when anxious or by increasing concentration when bored. Pen clicking, chewing gum, or tapping your foot are all forms of fidgeting. These methods, however, can be distracting to others. The fidget spinner allows people to fidget without interfering with another's concentration. If you’ve ever been anxious or experienced boredom, then you could benefit from a fidget spinner.

Spinning Out of Control

Social media, mental and cognitive disorders, and technology may all play a role in the fidget spinner’s rise to stardom.

With the help of social media, fidget spinners quickly became the headliners of online videos and gained a lot of media attention on local news stations. People took fidget spinners to the extreme by making videos of themselves doing tricks and posting to websites like YouTube or Instagram.

Mental and cognitive disorders are recognized and diagnosed a lot sooner than they were 20 years ago. One of the biggest marketing advantages behind fidget spinners is that they may help ease symptoms of anxiety by releasing tension. They can also help someone with ADHD focus in class without disrupting their fellow classmates. When Hettinger invented her spinner, she simply wanted to make a toy that was fun for adults and children. However, when McCoskey invented his Torqbar, he did so because he wanted to focus during work-related events.

Technology is also a significant reason why fidget spinners became a popular toy. Why would technology play a role in the fidget spinner’s popularity if there's nothing technological about it? As the digital era expands, devices such as our phones, TVs, and computers are all becoming touch screen. Everything we do is with our hands and our attention spans are fading. Fidget spinners allow us to feed our fidgeting needs and exercise our brains. It's a win-win!

Who Uses Fidget Spinners?

Any business or organization can promote their brand with fidget spinners. However, there are a few key industries that benefit most from these fun promotional giveaways.

Theme Park

Theme Parks

Remember that exciting roller coaster ride with a souvenir fidget spinner, which easily fits in your pocket, doesn’t require batteries, and won’t shrink after one wash!

Baseball Bat

Sports Teams

Having trouble focusing on the game? No problem! Get a fidget spinner supporting you favorite team and never miss the highlights of a game again.


Corporate Businesses

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for your employees around the holidays? Or just wanting to give them a memento that’s useful around the office? Look no further than branded fidget spinners.

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Some people have a physical need to fidget with something. Fidget spinners were seen as a way to let such people quietly fidget in a way that wasn’t destructive or loud and didn’t bother anyone

– Cara Stevens, Fidget Spinner Tricks, Hacks & Mods


How Are Fidget Spinners Made?

Your basic fidget spinner is made of a ball joint and bearing in its center that allows for the device to freely spin. The paddles or blades spin around the core that holds the bearing. Fidget spinners can be made out of plastic, metal, or wood. They can even be made using a 3D printer! The science behind a fidget spinner is simply physics, without the need for any additional technology. However, technology is still something we have now that Hettinger didn’t have on her side 20 years ago. This has led to innovative designs in fidget spinners that include LED lights, noisemakers, and a mini fidget spinner that fits on your computer keyboard.

Stats for Success

More than 200 miIllion fidget spinners have shipped to retailers.

The fidget spinner was in the top 20 best-selling toys of 2017.

Fidget spinners alone drove toy sales up 10% in 2017.

In January 2017, the term “Fidget Spinner” was searched 246,000 times.

The Bottom Line

It’s safe to say that a fidget spinner is a great giveaway for both children and adults. Whether you are a parent buying it for your child, an executive for a major corporation, a grandparent, or a stay-at-home mom hiding it from your kids because you actually want it for yourself, anyone can use a fidget spinner. Putting your logo on a fidget spinner is a fun twist on typical advertising efforts!

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten’s vast knowledge of promotional giveaways and marketing has led to several hit articles. She has also published work for PPB Magazine, a publication from the Promotional Products Association International.


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