Kids today have the fidget spinner — a simple mechanical device that spins when you flick it. Teachers hate them, but teenagers apparently love them.
When I was in elementary school, slap bracelets were the trend driving teachers nuts. Slap bracelets were short pieces of metal wrapped in fabric. When you slapped it on your wrist, it made a "WHACK" and wrapped around your arm. (And sometimes it left welts if your brother slapped it on you hard enough.)
For some reason, doing this over and over again constituted a genuine form of entertainment.
I got excited when one of my favorite podcasts, "Start Up," featured Stuart Anders, the inventor of the slap bracelet. His story is one of triumph, profound disappointment and a second act complete with injection molding machines and plastic products.
Anders is an inventor at heart, and long after the slap bracelet, came up with a simple plastic product that millions find useful today.
The show goes deep into the toy world, showing how things can go wrong quickly. And how someone with a unique mind went back to work, trying to figure out the next big thing.
Check out the episode with Anders' story. It's well worth your time.