Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been playing with Silly Putty. A random flip through a photo album or two will reveal shots of me with putty in my hand. I wasn’t a press-it-onto-the comics kid. Rather, I preferred to have it in my hand, fidgeting all the time. It kept my fingers busy, so my mind was free to…wander, I guess.

At one point, a family friend, Dr. Arthur Axelrod, gave me a tin of Thera-Plast, which was essentially Silly Putty for physical therapy. It was the same thing, it seemed, but it was in a cool tin.

About 20 years ago, a friend turned me on to Thinking Putty. When he was in college, creator Aaron Muderick, having been obsessed with Silly Putty as a child (no, we’re not related) got together with a few friends and bought some crazy amount of Silly Putty from Dow Chemical. They cut it into chunks and had a field day.

At some point, Aaron started experimenting with color, and now there’s a veritable cornucopia of colors. Some shimmer, some are heat sensitive, one is clear, others are magnetic. On and on. And Thinking Putty doesn’t come in an egg. It’s available in tins that contain an adult-sized, 3.2-oz wad (smaller tins are available).

Like putty in their hands

I’ve brought dozens of tins of Thinking Putty into business meetings with very serious men. They’ve wondered what I was playing with and wanted some of their own. Watching them play, it was easy to discern what kind of businessmen we were facing. For example, were they anal enough to make squares, spheres, and other exacting shapes? Were they rollers, making long strands of putty along the table’s edge? Did they squeeze it mercilessly in their hands? Or pull it apart, stretching and gathering, stretching and gathering? Quite often these guys asked for additional tins “for their kids.” Wink wink.

Fidget spinners are all the rage

Which brings us to fidget spinners. Right now, they. Are. Everywhere. I’ve spotted spinner kiosks in several malls, and I even found a display at, of all places, a local Amish Food Market. Full disclosure: I have three—two basic plastic ones and one metal one. They’ve sort of replaced putty for me, at least for the moment.

If you have kids (and if you’re at todaysdad.com, that’s a good bet), then you probably have a spinner or two at your house right now. Don’t believe me? Ask your kids.

And they’re really are all the rage—literally. Some say fidget spinners are a godsend, and others say they’re a curse. They’ve been both embraced and banned by schools, two extremes that seem a bit…extreme. I just think they’re fun. I might even try to learn a few tricks. To, you know, impress my kids.

We’re a fidgety culture. Fidget cubes, which feature six different fidgety activities on six sides of  small plastic cube, has generated millions in revenue. I imagine spinners are hot on the cube’s heels and will soon surpass it. And hey, by next week there will probably be a putty version of a fidget spinner. I’ll see you in line.

—Tony Buchsbaum