Dec. 23, 2016 The hype train begins chugging. Just in time for Christmas, Forbes declares fidget spinners “the must-have office toy for 2017,” observing that stressed-out executives whose fingers are “a raw, bloody mess” because of “boredom-induced nail-biting” are trading their stress balls for fidget spinners like MD Engineering’s Torqbars, priced from $129.99 to $259.99 but which begin selling for as much as $400 on eBay, because of their limited availability. It’s like a new iPhone for those who do not actually require their gadgets to do anything.
March 22 YouTube, along with Reddit, is filling up with videos on fidget-spinner reviews, hacks, and tricks. “Fidget spinning is a lifestyle,” DavidKing, an Australian tech blogger, says in his video, “Fidget Spinner Tricks With a Professional Fidgeter,” which has been viewed more than 3 million times. He was kidding. We think.
March 31 Lest you be confused, the fidget spinner is not just a child’s toy for grown-ups. Children love them too, according to The Boston Globe, as fidget spinners have apparently supplanted recent fads like bottle-flipping and homemade slime as a teacher nuisance. “When we got back from Christmas break, a couple of kids had them, then a couple more kids had them, and then they were definitely en vogue,” one New Hampshire schoolteacher said.
April 10 It’s not a party until the celebrities show up. InStyle recounts how Gwyneth Paltrow’s son, Moses, recently celebrated his 11th birthday by being given “a set of cool new fidget spinners before spending a sun-filled day at Legoland in California with friends and his proud mama.”
April 20 As school districts around the country ban these focus tools for being too, yes, distracting, a New York schoolteacher named Cristina Bolusi Zawacki takes to Working Mother to denounce fidget-spinners: “Let’s stop with the flowery euphemisms. It’s a toy and I hate it. I actually have a visceral reaction when they emerge from a pencil case or pocket, like a sadistic version of Pavlov’s bell experiment.”
May 2 The backlash is in full effect. In an article called “Are Fidget Spinners a Scam?” Britain’s Daily Mail quotes Dr. Mark Rapport, the director of the Children’s Learning Clinic at the University of Central Florida’s department of psychology, as saying that “using a spinnerlike gadget is more likely to serve as a distraction than a benefit for individuals with A.D.H.D.”
May 4 What backlash? Fidget-spinners occupy 17 of Amazon’s 20 best-sellers in the Toys & Games category (and fidget cubes account for two more). A Google Trends chart of the search term looks like a hockey stick.
May 5 Ms. Hettinger still has not seen a dime from any of this, at least since the 1990s, when she sold a few thousand spinners at fairs in Florida, she told Money. But that could change. Ms. Hettinger, now 62, plans to start her own Kickstarter campaign for a “classic” spinner soon.