What on Earth is a Squishmallow?
Behold, the stuffed animal that has taken over the internet.
If you’re at all familiar with the stuffed animal market, then you’ve surely noticed that recently, there’s one brand that people just can’t stop talking about — Squishmallows. Squishmallows are soft, squishy, cuddly animals that come in a variety of different colors and sizes. According to the Squishmallows website, they’ve been around since 2017, but in the last several months they have gained tons of fans, with the Squishmallows Instagram account now up to 220,000 followers.
But with so many different brands of stuffed animals to choose from, what makes Squishmallows so special? And why have they become so popular over the last several months? Well, let’s investigate.
First of all, Squishmallows are objectively a good quality product. They exist in many different colors and types, so there are lots to choose from. The brand is also constantly coming out with new collections, known as Squishmallow “squads” (check out the hashtag #squishmallowsquad on Instagram). Personally, one of my favorite collections is the Fruit Squad, which includes a strawberry, an avocado, a pineapple, and other produce items.
There’s also the Sealife Squad, Halloween Squad, and Adventure Squad, among others. They come in a range of sizes, from keychains (3.5 inches) all the way up to 24 inches. There are exclusive collaborations with several retailers and brands, such as Claire’s, Five Below, Star Wars, and Disney.
Squishmallows are known to be very soft, and, well, as their name implies, squishy. According to Sophie Stoyer in a HerCampus article, “Squishmallows are the softest and squishiest stuffed animals ever. If you haven’t actually felt them for yourself, you can’t even imagine what they feel like. You think you can, but you can’t. It’s a whole other kind of softness and squishiness.”
“Entirely independent from their softness, Squishmallows are malleable in the absolute best way… When you squeeze a Squishmallow, it flattens out, but it returns to its original shape almost as soon as you stop squeezing, with some slight individual variation,” Stoyer also states.
In addition to the actual quality of the product, the strong Squishmallow community on social media only further drives the hype and popularity around the stuffed animals. Customers and fans of Squishmallows are known as the “Squishmallow Squad,” and many will make Instagram accounts to document their growing Squishmallow collections and find other fans of the stuffed animals.
And, of course, like anything these days, they’ve gained popularity on TikTok, where people will showcase their collections and interact with other members of the community. TikToker @mooptopia (whose real name is Anastasiya, but she simply goes by her username on the app), who has 2.5 million followers and has been dubbed the “queen of alt TikTok,” is known for her sizeable collection of Squishmallows.
Squishmallows also come with names and unique personalities. For example, Diego the elephant, part of the Zoo Squad, has the following description on the website: “Inspired by his surroundings, Diego uses the jungle as his muse for all of the poems that he writes. He recently had one published in the local paper!”
The Squishmallow community is only one example of the many communities that have developed around stuffed animal brands in the past — such as with Webkinz (which you name and register and then introduce to an online community), Pillow Pets, and Build-A-Bear.
In the summer, I wrote about the hype around the Strawberry Cow Pillow Pet. People were beyond obsessed with it and started creating related art, music, and makeup looks. A whole community around the stuffed animal had developed. Because of its popularity, Pillow Pets soon launched a Chocolate Milkshake Cow and will come out with a Blueberry Cow in early 2021.
A similar sort of thing is currently happening with Squishmallows. People have been making Squishmallow stickers, earrings, Animal Crossing collab ideas, art, and more. Squishmallows as a brand is also very active on social media and actively seeks out customer requests and ideas.
And as we’ve all been at home for the past several months, Squishmallows are the perfect thing to decorate a room or just to keep company with — and they’re popular amongst teens and adults too, not just kids. They’re beloved by college students, who put them in their dorm rooms (or childhood bedrooms, because, you know, 2020) or have them nearby as they are sipping coffee and doing homework.
Believe it or not, Squishmallows can even be a way to bond with one’s friends or make new ones. Because not all of the Squishmallows are sold on the official website, and many are exclusively sold in certain stores, if you have a certain one (or multiple) you want to get, it can take some adventuring to find. Of course, this is always fun with friends, and people like to upload videos of themselves “Squishmallow hunting” with them. Some are also harder to find or more exclusive than others, which can be fun for those who like to participate in collecting. There are even some really novel Squishmallows, like the Sesame Street ones or this Chuck E. Cheese one that… kind of seems like it could be in an “it isn’t real, it can’t hurt you” meme??
Similar stuffed animals are sold by other brands — such as Urban Outfitters, which has a stuffed Boba tea, currently on backorder until February 2021. And a brand similar to Squishmallows, Squishables (the similar names have in fact caused confusion!) which was actually started back in 2007, even has an avocado toast and a plague doctor (quite on-brand for 2020). If you’re wondering what the difference between the two brands is, one Twitter user states that “squishmallows are like cute pillows with names and backstories, squishables are more of a plushie collectors thing since they’re not as squishy.”
Overall, although some are adamant that Squishables are the superior “squish,” Squishmallows seem to be the most trendy and popular brand at the moment. They are not just toys, but companions, which you can look after, introduce to your friends’ Squishmallows, or just hang out with. As one Twitter user states, “All girls really want are plants, squishmallows, and lip filler.” And uh, yeah.