Yo-yo

EMILY: With the dot-com bust and the job market dwindling and the stock market going up and down like a yo-yo …

A yo-yo is a toy which is basically a spool on a long string, which can be wound up and down and spun in different directions. They have been used as a toy, aparently since ancient Greece at least. In the US, the Yo-yo Manufacturing Plant was opened in Santa Barbara in 1928 by Filipino immigrant Pedro Flores – the word yo-yo itself comes from the Phillipines. The company was bought by Donald F. Duncan in 1932.

Yo-yos were popular toys in the 1930s, but sales declined after World War II, leading Duncan to launch a comeback campaign in the 1960s. They grew popular again during the 1970s and 1980s, and hit their peak in the late 1990s.

Frisbee

JESS: Can we talk about this later?

LUKE: Why, you got a big Frisbee heist going down at six?

A Frisbee is a gliding toy made from moulded plastic that can be used in catching and throwing games. They were invented by Walter Morrison, who got the idea in 1937 when he and his future wife were tossing cake pan back and forth to each other on a beach, when someone offered it to buy it for five times its value.

The first aerodynamically improved plastic discs were manufactured in 1948 by Morrison and his business partner, Warren Francioni and sold as the Whirlo-Way (named after a famous racehorse), then the Flying Saucer, then the Pluto Platter.

In 1957, Morrison sold the rights to Wham-O, whose co-founders Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin called the disc a Frisbee, after the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Frisbie supplied pies to Yale University, and students would throw empty pie tins to each other in a game they called Frisby.

The Frisbee’s real success came in 1964, when Wham-O’s vice president of marketing, Ed Headricks, redesigned the Frisbee to make it more accurate, and promoted it as an organised sport. When Headrick died, he was cremated and his ashes moulded into memorial discs. The Frisbee was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998.

Running Charades, Slip ‘N Slide

RORY: Oh, well yeah, it can be really nice just to stay at home sometimes because you can do fun things that you normally wouldn’t have time for.
LORELAI: Yeah, like play Running Charades, and get out that Slip ‘N Slide.

Running Charades is a charades game played in teams. Each team has a list of titles (of books, movies etc) that must be acted out to a team member, who is then meant to guess what it is, before another team member runs in to guess the next charade. Whichever team finishes all their charades by guessing correctly the fastest wins the game. It was brought out as a board game in 2000, suggesting that Lorelai bought a copy.

Slip ‘N Slide is a children’s toy brought out in 1961. It’s a long strip of plastic, which when sprayed with water, becomes incredibly slippery so that a child can slide right down to the end of it. Safety warning: they are only suitable for children, there have been several cases of teenagers and adults hurting their backs or necks, or even becoming paralysed, while playing on a Slip ‘N Slide. Lorelai’s joke seems slightly cruel in that context.

Mexican Bean

MICHEL: Stop jumping like a Mexican bean.

Mexican jumping beans are not really beans, but seed pods of the plant Sebastiana pavonia, native to Mexico and Costa Rica. The seeds can become inhabited by the larva of a small moth, and if it becomes warm, it will move to eat, causing the seed to “jump”. Holding one in your hand will warm it to the point it becomes quite lively. They are sold as children’s novelty items in the US, and it is common to say that an excitable child is hopping about “like a Mexican jumping bean” .

Mrs Potato Head

LORELAI: Fine, I’ll just use the Mrs. Potato Head lips [on the snow woman].

Mr Potato Head is a toy consisting of a plastic potato “head”, to which you can attach a variety of body parts, such as eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. First manufactured by Hasbro in 1952, it was the first toy to be advertised on television. Mrs Potato Head was added in 1953, with Brother Spud and Sister Yam soon following.

Mr and Mrs Potato Head joined the Toy Story franchise in 1995, and Mr Potato Head got his own short-lived television show in 1998. They have lent themselves to several advertising campaigns and become spokespeople for various causes, such as giving up smoking, getting fit, and women voters.

Lorelai apparently has some Mrs Potato Head lips to use as a backup, but doesn’t get the chance to try them as the snow woman’s head unfortunately falls off.

Silly String

(Lorelai walks in the front door carrying shopping bags.)
LORELAI: Rory, I’m back for round two [of their fight]. I got some Silly String in case things get really ugly.

Silly String is a toy consisting of flexible plastic string propelled as liquid from an aerosol can. It was first invented in 1972. Silly String fights are common among children.

“Even Barbie ended up being a stewardess”

PARIS: I just think it’s strange that you don’t wanna be queen.
RORY: You know, not all girls want to be queen, Paris. Even Barbie ended up being a stewardess.

Rory is referring to the doll named Barbie, previously discussed. One of her early “careers” was becoming a stewardess with American Airlines in 1961, where she wore a uniform and carried a flight bag. Barbie never has been a queen, although since the 1990s she has been a princess.

“Connecticut Ken”

LORELAI: Is this a setup?
EMILY: What?
LORELAI: Uh, Connecticut Ken in there, is he my invited escort for the evening?

Ken is a toy doll introduced by Mattel in 1961 as a male counterpart to Barbie; he also has multiple fashion accessories. Barbie and Ken are promoted as a couple, although sometimes they just seem to be good friends – with the result that Ken is sometimes jokingly rumoured to be gay.

To call a man a “Ken Doll” is generally an insult. It might suggest he is handsome but shallow and boring, or that he exists only to serve as an escort or accessory to a woman. Lorelai is probably implying both these things by calling Chase “Connecticut Ken”.