It's apparently not too early to anoint this year's hot holiday toy, one that is surprisingly old school: the Rainbow Loom. And as Annie Murphy Paul writes at Time, "If you don't know what that is, you don't have children under age twelve." For those in the dark, the contraption helps kids create intricate rubber band bracelets, usually dispensed to friends. The craze got its start in the summer but intensified with the return to school, writes Laura DeMarco at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. And, crucially, boys are on board. In fact, Time's Murphy Paul finds this the most interesting part of the trend, given the entrenched gender roles in the toy biz.
Parents seem to love the looms because they don't involve staring at a screen and theoretically build kids' motor skills and social ones, too. (Thanks to all the bracelet exchanging going on.) Plus, starter kits don't break the bank at about $17—assuming you can find one on store shelves. "The last time parents were this hot and heavy over a toy, it was Beanie Babies," a toy store owner tells the Chicago Tribune. And the obligatory Beanie Babies comparison isn't the only milestone for the looms: Two schools in New York City have banned them because they were deemed too distracting, notes Today.com. (In other toy news, click to read about how Legos are angrier these days.)