Flying off the shelves — the love for Squishmallows

One year later, let’s take a look at our plushie obsession

Last winter, it was hard to come by the squish.

I scoured the shelves of any Walmart I came across looking for a rare squish, even following stores on social media to know when they would come back in stock.

Yes, it may be a little shameful to admit that is how I spend my time, but I love the soft, squishy plushies. They come equipped with a name and a small description of what their aspirations are, and can become your fluffy best friend.

Although, now I find myself asking, where the hell am I gonna put all these damn Squishmallows? 

This all began when my partner’s mom innocently gifted me Tally the Tabby Cat, one of the original Squishmallows. Within a few months, I was obsessively placing my many squish on my bed every morning.

Maddie Laxer, a fellow squish-enthusiast, had a similar experience. After receiving a squish as a gift from her bestie, she suddenly found herself immersed in the world of round fluffy friends. “It just turned into such a fun thing, trying to find all these little animals.”

After all, the hunt is half the fun.

After finding fame on TikTok, Squishmallows became virtually impossible to find in stores. Not only were me, my cousin, and my cousin’s friend all looking for them, but a slew of resellers appeared out of the woodwork, driving up the price of our round furry friends online and in stores. All of a sudden they were not only hard to find, but they were exclusive.

That’s when things got interesting. It became a real hunt, searching for the cutest companion for the best price (the big squishies retail for $20-25, pretty reasonable in my opinion). “You never know when they’re sort of gonna pop up,” said Maddie.

Although she occasionally went out on hunts herself, Maddie’s mom was the main culprit responsible for her daughter’s Squishmallow collection. “It sort of turned into a fun little, like, activity with me and my mom,” explained Maddie.

Last year, as outings were limited to essentials only, and many of us weren’t able to go out to browse for fun anymore, Maddie’s mom would utilize her weekly trips to Winners to hunt for squish. She would send photos of neatly stacked rows of them to her daughter, asking which one would best suit her collection. “She started going out of her way every time to be at Winners trying to see which ones were there.”

Squishmallows aren’t just useful for cuddling and staying cozy, they also help to build a community, and helped some to stay connected during a long lockdown.

Much of the content posted on social media showed us how friends and family of Squishmallow enthusiasts would get in on the fun of the hunt. Often accompanied by captions such as, my grandpa found me the cutest squish today! or get yourself a boyfriend who hunts squishmallows with you.

In a time where — and I don’t have to remind you of this — the air felt tense, everyone was locked inside and forced to face the realities of a global pandemic, maybe we all needed a furry friend to rely on.

Teddy bears and plushies were a huge part of our childhood. A recent study found that four in 10 Americans still find comfort in their childhood stuffed animals. So it’s not so surprising young adults have taken an interest in this new plushie craze.

In the ‘90s it was Beanie Babies, now it’s Squishmallows.

But, I will reiterate: what the hell am I supposed to do with the mountain of stuffed animals I have in my small Montreal apartment?

I’ve shoved a substantial amount of my collection up on a shelf I can’t reach without the help of a chair. But still, a select few stay on my bed, desk chair, and couch at all times. I find it fun to switch them out depending on my mood. For example, I currently have Dawn the Fawn out, since she’s a winter-themed squish. Fitting for the recent snow, and cold weather.

But there are other solutions if you wish to get rid of them entirely. I’d recommend finding a toy drive to donate to, or even a thrift store with a large toy section. Maybe you have a relative that just had a baby.

Regardless of where the squish ends up, they will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only did they single-handedly throw me back into childhood, but they also represent my biggest financial shame… don’t tell my parents.


Photo collage by Catherine Reynolds

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