Catherine Hettinger did not create the fidget spinner. The biggest schoolyard phenomenon since Yo-Yos, fidget spinners are now manufactured by dozens of toy companies but, according to The Guardian and The New York Times, the spinners owe their success to Hettinger, the putative creator of the first-ever model. Hettinger even has an appealing origin story—she claims she invented fidget spinners to help solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But now that she’s launched a Kickstarter to claim some credit (and cash), one thing has become abundantly clear: Hettinger’s “Classic Fidget Spinner Spinning De-stressor Finger Toy” has little in common with fidget spinners.
The pictures on the Kickstarter page make it abundantly clear that, whatever Hettinger invented, it’s not a fidget spinner. The fidget spinners that have been banned from classrooms across the country involve decreasing friction through not-so-simple physics, while Hettinger’s version is essentially a rubber circle that pops up in the middle so you can rest it atop your finger. It’s not that Hettinger’s toy isn’t good. It might be. But it 100 percent is not a fidget spinner.
Like most Kickstarters, the page offers backers different levels of financial support that each come with their own reward. Most of the pledges are standard (a $10 donation gets you a spinner, and so on) but things really escalate when the page offers backers the chance to meet Hettinger herself for the incredibly reasonable price of $5,000. According to the page, getting to meet the inventor of (something vaguely similar to) the fidget spinner is “the perfect fun you have always wanted to be a part of.” Along with the opportunity to meet Hettinger in Orlando, big donors will receive 800 Classic Fidget Spinner Spinning De-stressor Finger Toys and have personal phone access to Hettinger. So, pretty nice.
And while Hettinger’s fidget fiasco might not be a Madoff-level deception, there’s one thing about this campaign that’s unforgivable—tricking people into spending time in Orlando. That is certainly cruel and unusual punishment.
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