America’s Favorite Toy Was Created to Forge Middle East Peace


If you’ve spent any time with America’s children lately, you know about the “fidget spinner” craze. What might surprise you is that these spinning doodads were created by an American mom after a family visit to Israel.

When Catherine Hettinger heard about Palestinian boys throwing rocks as part of the First Intifada, she wanted to invent something that could diffuse anger and make a positive difference.

“It started as a way of promoting peace, and then I went on to find something that was very calming,” Hettinger recently told Money Magazine. Hettinger designed the toy in 1993 and patented it in 1997, but no companies expressed interest. She sold a few thousand herself, but couldn’t afford the $400 patent renewal in 2005. It didn’t seem like a worthwhile investment. Not long after, small manufacturers started producing the spinners as therapeutic toys for children. From there, they exploded in popularity—and not just for kids. Forbes recently declared them the “Must-Have Office Toy for 2017.”


Fidget spinners can now cost up to hundreds of dollars – none of which goes to Hettinger, who is struggling financially. Though she did recently started a Kickstarter campaign to revive her original design. As for the potential for quelling violence in the Middle East—well, we can only hope.

Recommended from JTA