Hot on the toy scene right now are "fidget spinners."
Spinners are small three-pronged ball bearing contraptions that rotate and spin mesmerizingly between one's fingers, bringing a sort of sensory calm to jittery nerves. But while the craze started a couple months ago, did you know the fidget spinner was first invented in the early 1990s?For creator Catherine Hettinger, it all started when she witnessed some boys throwing rocks at people a few decades ago. And of course, since "idle hands are the devil's playground," Hettinger set to work inventing a toy that would keep hands busy and children out of trouble. "It started as a way of promoting peace," Hettinger said, "and then I went on to find something that was very calming." It seems that many others agree, as the spinner appeals to people of all ages, and its sudden popularity has catapulted it to Amazon's Top 20 list of best sellers in toys and games (taking up most of those 20 spots as of May 4). The plastic device also seems to have a huge fan-base among students, especially those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism, or anxiety, who often use sensory aides to assist with concentration. These toys are not without controversy -- specifically in schools. Some classroom teachers tout its praises in helping students to focus and relieve stress, while others say that, though the spinner is practically silent, it's a big distraction -- both to the users and others around them. Whatever the personal preference for use in public spaces, it's hard to deny the spinner's zen-like aspects, which can be addictive in a very busy world. They're available in all kinds of colors and patterns (that can look pretty cool when they're in motion!), and YouTube is hopping with how-to videos where users show off the spinner tricks they've developed. Hettinger's patent expired on the original design before the spinner sales took off a couple months ago. An inability to cash in on the invention's success hasn't stifled her excitement over the benefits its users are experiencing, though. "That was always the concept -- to help people," Hettinger told Money. “The culture we live in now — the times now — everyone has a need for fun. People are realizing it — and it’s true."