In the last week, my 10-year-old daughter and I have gone on three "Squishmallow hunts," scouring the shelves of stores like Target, Walgreens and Five Below in search of the round plush toys the internet is obsessed with.
They're sold at Claire's stores, too, and even Aldi, the German grocery store chain, carries an exclusive line with the brand.
On TikTok, Squish-lovers go on hunts of their own, jumping for joy when they find a new Squishmallow to add to their collections. They frequently disappear from shelves in stores, begging the questions, what are Squishmallows? Why is your kid talking about them? And why are they suddenly so hard to find?
Squishmallows is projecting that by the end of 2021 they'll have sold 100 million plush toys since the brand's 2017 start, said Kelly Deen, senior vice president of marketing at Jazwares, the brand's parent company.
Jazwares is quite aware of the demand, Deen said, and are working to keep up with it.
"We are drastically increasing supply to help retailers restock more quickly so fans can keep growing their squads," Deen told TODAY Parents.
What's a Squishmallow?
Squishmallows are plush toys stuffed with super soft, marshmallowy polyester fiber. They retail for between $2.99 to $59.99, though you may find marked-up prices online.
There are 800 varieties, from frogs and birds to leopards with pink spots or pug dogs dressed as astronauts. Sizes range from 3-inch "Micromallows" to extra large 24-inch ones.
There are stackable Squishmallows, Flip-A-Mallows (which turn inside out to become a different creature) and mystery bags containing a secret squish you can't meet until you've paid for it.
Each comes with a name tag that tells kids the things they love.
The secret is out
In the last year or so, social media has exploded with videos and posts about the adorable stuffed toys. TikTokkers share videos where they show off their newest Squishmallows, and videos abound with tips for finding them.
Many retailers have started limiting the amount of Squishmallows a customer can purchase in one transaction due to how often people clean out store shelves, then re-sell the toys on sites like Mercari and Ebay.
Since the great Squishmallows shortage of 2021, we've driven an hour to a Target for a rare turtle squishy. I've perfected the art of searching local Walgreens stores for a specific Squishmallow, then placing a mobile order and driving to pick it up. And, just yesterday, we were the first ones at Aldi when they opened to grab one from their new line.
A glance at the 745K views #Squishmallows videos have on TikTok suggests we're not alone.