From viral dance routines to feta pasta, TikTok has birthed several pandemic trends over the last year. The latest? Squishmallows, a line of collectable plush toys that have created a frenzy even crazier than Beanie Babies.
Just like its predecessor, the adorable, huggable Squishmallows are released in limited quantities and editions — creating an obsession amongst fans who’ve gotta have ’em all. Although the toys were initially marketed towards kids, they soon developed a following of teens, adults and even pets.
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Rabid collectors showcase their massive collections on TikTok and Instagram, including Canadian Hanna Rolheiser.
The 19-year-old has a personal collection of over 400 (costing about $12,000), which she regularly posts about to her Instagram account @squishmallowyeg. The ultra-soft and oh-so-cute Squishmallows feature small rounded smiles and a distinct set of tiny, circle eyes.
“What draws me to Squishmallows is their appearance, and the names and bio tags they have,” Hanna tells Daily Hive.
“Each and every single Squishmallow is different — the animals and characters are all so unique and each have such a unique look.”
Fans can choose from frog or cow inspired Squishmallows — or for the pop culture savvy, Baby Yoda and Hello Kitty versions are also available.
The Edmonton resident first discovered the plush toys on Instagram and describes being “instantly hooked.” Shortly after, her mom bought her one — and Hanna was already looking for more the next day.
“I would go hunting in Edmonton from 8 am to the stores closing time,” she tells Daily Hive.
“I had gotten one and I thought I would only have…maybe two but it slowly became an obsession,” she confessed, adding she thinks the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in the fad.
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“A lot of people use Squishmallows as a coping mechanism,” she explains.
“For example, I suffer from anxiety and the pandemic brought my mental health to an ultimate low — if I didn’t have my Squishmallows…I don’t know what I would do.”
The teen also credits the “butter soft” toys for helping with her intense migraines.
Since 2017, Kellytoy has released more than 800 unique Squishmallows in various sizes and sold over 50 million. Depending on when and how many of each model were released, some are rarer than others — just like Pokémon.
While debate is ongoing about the hardest-to-find Squishmallow, “Jack the Black Cat” is certainly a contender. Only 500 were available for purchase on the company’s official website, according to various fan sites. The limited edition today has since popped up on resale sites like eBay for over $1,000.
An entire online community around hunting for them has erupted online, with fans connecting over Reddit, Instagram Tumblr, and of course, TikTok.
In Canada, Squishmallows retail at major stores like Indigo, London Drugs, and Save-On-Foods.
“Squishmallow has consistently been a popular item for us, making a lot of kids and collectors alike very happy,” Matt Elmer, Director of Toys and Innovation at Indigo, says to Daily Hive.
The book and lifestyle retailer began carrying Squishmallows a few years ago, but notes there was a bump in growth during the pandemic.
“It was this past holiday season that they really started taking off and we’ve loved seeing all the amazing attention this trend has brought to the brand,” Elmer added.
“They’ve really been embraced by people of all ages, but their collectability is absolutely creating a market for collectors who want to have them all. Their fun licenses, like the Star Wars Squishmallow collection for example, help cater to that market too.”
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