You've probably seen them, whirring between the thumbs and index fingers of school children, celebrities, and even Barron Trump. Dubbed the "hula hoop of Gen Z," the fidget spinner—a small three-bladed gizmo intended to minimize distraction—has taken the teen world by storm. Its rise has been so seismic that e-commerce data firm Slice Intelligence estimated that late last month, the toy accounted for 17% of daily online toy sales.
Austere publications across the country have chronicled the toys' rise, dutifully explaining them to adults. Giants of the toy industry have moved to get in on the trend, with Toys R Us airfreighting tens of thousands of the things to meet demand. But here's the bad news for the grown-ups and Fortune 500 companies: the fidget spinner is no longer cool.
The term hit its peak popularity on Google search in mid-May, and like most trends, quickly started to fizzle. The term “fidget spinner” first appeared on Google trends sometime between Jan. 29 and Feb. 4. The term increased in usage rapidly for the next few months, peaking on May 6 in the U.S.
Data from payment platform Square confirms interest is waning. Slice Intelligence, too, shows a downward trajectory: online sales of the toy peaked on May 5 before making its descent.
Social media, where fad rose to prominence has also turned on the trend. A Reddit user wondered "Why are fidget spinners so hated?" while Twitter responded with its typical snark:
The simplistic toy found its way onto Amazon, eBay and cheap vendors on the street. Viral videos with fidget spinner tricks, fidget spinner accidents and talented fidget spinning animals spread over Facebook. Experts argued whether the spinning toys might help those with ADHD or anxiety concentrate or whether the toys just served as another distraction in the classroom. At the same time, fidget spinner injuries began to appear in the news. Parents reported of children putting the toys in their mouths and one child nearly lost an eye according to a news report. The popular toy quickly received backlash by early May with many schools banning the arguably therapeutic spinning contraption.
Part of what made fidget spinners so ubiquitous was that their production isn’t constrained by a patent. Catherine Hettinger, credited as the inventor of the toy, let the patent expire in 2005 according to the Financial Times. This made the creation of the toy a free-for-all.
Users picked up versions at online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba. In April, fidget spinners took a 14% share of Amazon's top ten consumed products according to Jumpshot Tech Blog. As of June 12, fidget spinners still dominated the Amazon bestseller list in the toy section, taking up the top three spots and beating even the widely popular card game, Cards Against Humanity.
Toys R Us didn’t get its first shipment of fidget spinners on its shelves until the first week of May according to the Chicago Tribune. Similarly, most Walmart stores had fidget spinners by the second week of May according to Michelle Malashock from Walmart corporate communications. But as these big players finally start to stock up, the cool kids may already be onto the next shiny object.