What Are Pop Its?

The Pop Its fidget toy blew up after appearing in a TikTok video. Here's what to know about this must-have toy for kids.

An image of a pop it fidget spinner.
Photo: Getty Images.

Pop Its are a toy craze that made waves in households across the country after being shown in a viral TikTok video featuring a monkey. The popular fidget toy, which is made up of bubbles that can be poked, has enthralled kids everywhere.

Here's what you need to know about these flexible silicone toys and how playing with Pop Its might benefit your kids.

What Is a Pop It Fidget Toy?

Made of silicone, Pop It fidget toys feature bubbles that can be poked. These sensory toys are simple and fun to use. Research shows they may reduce stress and improve focus and fine motor control.

Who Invented Pop Its?

You may be seeing them everywhere, but where did these toys come from? The story of Pop It begins with Theo and Ora Coster, a married couple from Israel, who have invented more than 190 games—including the classic face recognition game Guess Who?—and founded a company called Theora Design, as the BBC reports. (Amazing fact: Theo was a classmate of Anne Frank.)

When Ora's sister died from breast cancer in the mid-1970s, she reportedly had a dream that inspired her to think of game like a large field of breasts that can be pressed. She and her husband created a prototype game inspired by the vision. The design sat around for many years until the couple's sons, who now run the company, sold it to Montreal-based games company Foxmind.

The company manufactured the product in silicone, and it was marketed as a game called Last One Lost, a puzzle in which two players press the bubbles together, and the player who presses the last one loses. It debuted in 2014 but didn't get much traction. In 2019, the company relaunched the toy under the name Pop It! and it hit Target shelves. Soon after, it completely took off.

Why Are Pop Its So Popular?

The toy's big moment has been linked to its appearance in a viral TikTok video. In the clip, a capuchin monkey-turned-influencer named Gaitlyn Rae can be seen playing with a Pop It. The video is credited with launching the Pop Its craze.

In addition to authentic Pop Its, which come in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors, you can now get Pop It-style knockoff toys—not licensed by Foxmind. You can find versions inspired by Peppa Pig, dinosaurs, pizzas, unicorns, pineapples, and more.

What Age Is Appropriate for Pop It?

While Pop Its from Foxmind are sold for ages 3 and up, other companies market similar fidget toys for younger ages. Since Pop Its are typically made of silicone, they are generally safe for young children who might be prone to putting things in their mouths. But there are exceptions.

"As with any toy, it is important to make sure there are no ragged edges that could get broken off and accidentally ingested," explains Rashmi Jain, M.D., a concierge pediatrician in Irvine, California, and founder of BabiesMD. "In such cases, like with other toys that potentially have small parts which can be choking hazards, we recommend not to use these toys under 3 years of age."

Benefits of Pop It Fidget Toys

The straightforward benefit of playing with Pop Its is the simple enjoyment kids (or adults) get from popping the bubbles back and forth. But research suggests fidget toys may also help relieve stress and improve focus and fine motor control, while another study shows they can help students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) ignore distractions.

Dr. Jain agrees that fidget toys can be beneficial for self-regulation and learning. "Benefits of toys like Pop Its include sensory engagement which in turn allows many children to focus better on academic matters or in other areas that require them to concentrate," she explains. "The repetitive motion of pushing the buttons back and forth can keep their hands occupied and brains focused."

These toys may also prevent kids from "sucking their fingers, biting their nails, twirling their hair, picking at their skin, or performing other self-injurious/stereotypic actions that are often soothing but can also be distracting for these children," adds Dr. Jain.

But of course every child is different, so while fidget toys may help some kids feel calm and engage more effectively in school (or another task requiring their attention), others may not see the same boost in productivity.

Still, whether they're using them as a fun diversion, for stress relief, or trading them with friends, it's clear many kids are enjoying a variety of benefits from the bubble wrap-style toys.

Updated by Anna Halkidis
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Sources
Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The effect of fidget spinners on fine motor control. Scientific Reports. 2018

  2. Using Fidget Spinners to Improve On-Task Classroom Behavior for Students With ADHD. Behavior Analysis in Practice. 2022

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