Behind the fidget spinner is a classic sad tale of an unlucky inventor making a mistake and losing a fortune. Maybe. No one's really sure whose mind spawned these blasted things, but we do know of someone who invented a very similar type of doohickey: Florida native Catherine Hettinger. Inspired by stories of kids in Israel throwing rocks at cops and passersby, Hettinger created her imaginatively named "spinning toy" to finally give children a release that does not involving beaning strangers with chunks of mineral. Here's the prototype:
"I call it the Outrageous Tubular Party Nipple (For Kids)."
Anyone who has met a preteen in the last six months might know that that mini UFO doesn't quite look like the shape of the childproofed throwing stars that are contemporary fidget spinners. However, surely that's close enough for at least a few mildly lucrative out-of-court settlements. That is, if Hettinger still owned her invention. After successfully selling her spinning toy at arts and crafts markets across Florida (no small feat for a product not fashioned out of alligator teeth), Hettinger started suspecting she finally had a hit on her hands. Her dreams were crushed, however, when Hasbro passed on producing the toy. Crestfallen, Hettinger finally let her patent lapse in 2005, no longer able to afford to pay the $400 fee for something that would obviously never take off.