Drought and Yo-yos

What connects an environment's prolonged shortage of water with the popular retro toy that can walk a dog, rock a baby, AND move 'round the world'?

Drought and Yo-yos

Drought and yo-yos are similar in that they're both widely, and not so widely, known for each having a distinct lack of moisture.

Listen here, on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts

One's great fun, but the other's a serious challenge, and somewhere, somehow, in history, they share a story that's rather unbelieveable.

"I loved yo-yos as a kid," Dave said.

"They were banned at my school!" Glenn replied.

"Some kid would have been hit in the back of the head while someone was doing an around the world, or there'd be a tooth taken out...

"I was a fanta guy."

"I was Coke! Those Coke and Fanta yo-yos were great," Dave said.

Thinking Music

Dave and Glenn improvised a "make believe" scene, inspired by the Coca-Cola yo-yos, and the original pitch to bring the two products together.

Check out some pro-yo-yo moves from the 1980s on the Coke-branded toys...

Glenn thought yo-yos could have been invented to raise funds for drought relief, while Dave thought the yo-yo design could have been historically linked to water divining...

But what was the real answer?

In 1933, yo-yos were banned in Syria by the Prime Minister of the time.

There was a drought and severe cold disastrously affecting local cattle.

Superstitious muslims believe this to be divine punishment for the introduction of yo-yos.

They claimed that while people were praying for the rain to come down from above, the yo-yo goes down and before it reaches the ground, it returns to the user's hand with the subtle type of the string.

According to them, this supposedly angered the heavens and brought on drought as punishment.

On the day they we were banned, police paraded the streets and confiscated yo-yos from anyone and everyone they saw playing with them.

The ban has since been lifted!

On the Australian TROVE database is a fantastic Broken Hill Barrier Miner small front-page article from Monday, 23 January, 1933, reporting on the happenings heard from Beirut.

Exerpts read...


Blamed for Drought by Moslems.

...Moslem chiefs at Damascus have attributed the wrath of the heavens to the recent introduction of the yo-yo...

The chiefs interviewed the prime minister and exposed the evil influence of yo-yos, so they were immediately banned.

We wonder what then Prime Minister Haqqi al-Azm and the chiefs would think of world yo-yo champion Gentry Stein's skills now!


The robot's voice comes from Google Home. They're pretty good.

Original theme music by Kit Warhurst.

Artwork created by Stacy Gougoulis.

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