Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 22, 2003 / 20 Nissan, 5763

Lenore Skenazy

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Toy alarmists can
often be real yo-yos | It's headed for the playground and it's going to kill our children! Run! Hide! Call in the Marines! Sweet Lord, save us from - The 99-cent water yo-yo.

If you read the papers or watch TV, no doubt you are already on orange alert when it comes to the squishy, liquid-filled ball attached to a boingy rubber cord. New York State Consumer Protection Board Chairwoman Teresa Santiago has declared it nothing less than SARS on a string.

"We don't know what this water is," she declared last week. "At this point, no one should be buying this."

Right. And no one should be buying an old-fashioned yo-yo, either. Could hit you in the eye. And a marble could get stuck up your nose. And a Barbie could choke you, if you tried to swallow her leg.

Which some kid probably has tried to do.

The point is, all toys have a certain amount of danger associated with them - usually infinitesimal. But somewhere along the way, we lost the ability to distinguish between a Beanie Baby and a BB gun. All playthings became potential killers. How come?

"Your crib sheets could strangle your tot! Details at 11!"

Media hype like that is partly to blame. There's nothing the nightly news loves more than the chance to scare parents about a previously overlooked - often ludicrous - danger.

Then, too, in a society that sues at the drop of a coffee cup, we got used to thinking of all injuries as someone else's fault. Now we're on the lookout for culprits everywhere. And alarmist public servants are only too eager to ramp up our anxiety.

The water yo-yo is a case in point. "It's putting our kids in the hospital!" said Santiago.

Not true. Literally millions of these novelties have been sold in the past few months. "I mean, it was like one day they just took over our house," says my friend Melissa, a Westchester mom of two.

Ours, too. But at the Long Island poison control center, covering a population of 5 million, operators have received only 17 calls from parents whose kids ingested the liquid that sometimes leaks from the yo-yos.

Did any of those children get sick? No, reports Dr. Tom Curaccio, the center's director.

In the city, there were two yo-yo incidents. One 5-year-old's blood pressure shot up alarmingly high after he drank the liquid from a punctured yo-yo. But by the time he reached the emergency room, he threw up and was fine. The other time, a girl got the cord wrapped around her neck and her mom had to cut it off with a scissors.

As awful as both those incidents were, it just doesn't sound like the toys are causing a tsunami of illness and injury. I mean, it's not like they're something really dangerous, like bikes.

Santiago wants to see the yo-yos labeled with a warning not to drink the liquid or wrap the cord around one's neck. That sounds reasonable. But with any luck, parents already have suggested as much to their kids.

Santiago also wants the liquid in these toys tested. Since that seems to be taking a while, I punctured a ball yesterday and took a sip.

Conclusion? It's no Chateau Lafitte. It's not even Juicy Juice. Kids will spit it out.

Then they'll probably go on to eat a nice chunk of eraser, or a slice of plastic cheese from the toy kitchen. And then, like me, they'll be ready for dinner.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.


04/15/03: The Bud Lites of Manhattan
04/01/03: Is that a poem in your pocket?
03/26/03: The view from here --- powerless
03/24/03: Old soldiers never lie
03/18/03: May you choke on your mustache
02/28/03: Iraq needs a dose of reality (TV)
02/20/03: Call the kids the Reheated Generation
02/04/03: Welcome to Mourning TV
01/29/03: Sipping Starbucks on the sly
01/24/03: Golden arches are falling
01/14/03: Designs soar, critics fall flat
01/10/03: Don't smile for the camera
01/06/03: Have they no shame!? My sanity meter is running out
12/31/02: You know, like, resolved
12/23/02: Warning: Art ahead
12/05/02: Hey, boss! Can you hear me now?
12/03/02: Raw & steamy food fight
11/19/02: The new power tie
11/12/02: Googling be gone
11/05/02: Time waits for no blender
10/28/02: As debate rages about 9-11 memorial, a perfect one quietly appears
10/24/02: Your health, their wealth
10/10/02: Sometimes death opens up the door
09/24/02: Reality hits Mickey
09/19/02: Should you report me to the authorities?
09/12/02: War and love: Romance rises from the ashes
08/30/02: If beer is good, spinoffs are great
08/13/02: Braving difficult steps
08/08/02: Can't trust those tourists!
08/02/02: Enquiring about the 'stars'? I already know
07/26/02: Reunions that defy history
07/18/02: Where'd all the logos go?
07/12/02: He's why Boomers leap and twist
07/09/02: Hold on, my molar's ringing
06/25/02: Pitching the fish fork
06/11/02: Water fad is bottled nonsense 06/11/02: 06/07/02: He who brings menus deserves praise
06/04/02: Relish This! The World Trade Center Hot Dog Guy has been found
05/23/02: The return of the tight squeeze
05/15/02: A Little Too Spicy
05/10/02: Okay, start the movie already!
05/07/02: If you win the lottery, you may be out of luck
05/01/02: Driven nuts by drive-time cell phoners
04/16/02: Chats of a lifetime
04/10/02: This Pet Has a Tail to Tell
03/26/02: Hey, New York - Take a Haiku
03/21/02: Your 'victim,' is my 'survivor' is somebody else's 'hero'?
03/19/02: Terrorists, get out your No. 2 pencils
03/14/02: Tribute Has City Back at its Windows
03/06/02: Dumping Ted: Gray Day For the Baby Boomers
02/27/02: Sometimes, lying's the best policy
02/20/02: The Fad That Won't Fade Away
02/12/02: The smoking gun of white-collar crime is making some folks very happy
02/05/02: Exterminators are evolving, too
02/01/02: Don't suffer do drugs
01/22/02: The Blue Light of Happiness
01/18/02: Marlboro's surprising gift to U.S.
01/08/02: Hospitals make me sick
01/02/02: Read-Aloud Resolutions
12/21/01: Nothing's Worse/Than Bad Verse
12/18/01: This Little Dog Bytes
12/13/01: Palm Pilot or Calendar? Paper Wins
12/07/01: The gift of 9/11
12/03/01: Altria Is Really Smokin'

© 2002, New York Daily News