Pedro Flores: Father of the Yo-Yo

From Draconian Philippinian Weapon to Iconic Kids' Toy

A yo-yo in the process of being spun
Yo-yo craze. Christoph Hetzmannseder / Getty Images

The word yo-yo is a Tagalog word, the native language of the Philippines, and means 'come back.' In the Philippines, the yo-yo was a weapon for over 400 hundred years. Their version was large with sharp edges and studs and attached to thick twenty-foot ropes for flinging at enemies or prey. People in the United States started playing with the British bandalore or yo-yo in the 1860s.

It was not until the 1920s that Americans first heard the word yo-yo. Philippinian immigrant Pedro Flores began manufacturing, eventually mass producing, yo-yos out of his small toy factory located in California.

Duncan saw the toy, liked it, bought the rights from Flores in 1929 and then trademarked the name Yo-Yo.

Biography of Pedro Flores

Pedro Flores was born in Vintarilocos Norte, Philippines. He immigrated to the United States in 1915, later studying law at the University of California Berkeley and the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.

Pedro Flores never completed his law degree and began his yo-yo business while working as a bellboy. In 1928, Flores started his Yo-Yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara. James and Daniel Stone of Los Angeles financed machinery for the mass production of yo-yos.

On July 22, 1930, Pedro Flores trademark registered the name Flores Yo-Yo. Both his yo-yo factories and the trademark were later acquired by the Donald Duncan Yo-yo Company.