Opinion: Obsession with Squishmallows is result of COVID

Gabby Reese, Staff Writers

Credit: MJ Soria

Squishmallows, the famous round plush animals with specific names and backstories,  were first released in 2017 under Kelly Toys Holdings LLC, according to Insider News. Now they have made over 800 different variations, each with different colors and patterns. The craze of the Squishmallows arose during the middle of the pandemic in 2020 when people were socially withdrawn and bored at home. Squishmallows then began to blow up as Tik Tok allowed fans to showcase their beloved plush animals which provoked people to hunt for the specific Squishmallow they have their heart set on. They are available for purchase in stores such as Five Below, Kroger and Costco with prices ranging from $2.99 to $59.99 depending on size.

From the outside, it seems quite confusing as to why kids that are going off to college are wanting to buy more stuffed animals rather than donating the ones that they already have. My thoughts are that this became an intense obsession because it provides joy and is a way to accumulate a collection of items, some being difficult to find. The pandemic changed people’s way of thinking, for better and worse. 

Proud owners of the rare Squishmallows also possess a symbol of status. Owning one of these Squishmallows represents having the luxury of freetime to track one down an excess amount of money that one is willing to spend on something that has no true use or value. 

Squishmallows are also a symbol of comfort, coinciding with the intention of any standard stuffed animal. They can be used for cuddling, or as pillows for napping or going to bed. These socially acceptable Squishmallows are allowing for older teens and college students to embrace their childhood in the myst of a worldwide pandemic. These Squishmallows allow students to regain their childhood innocence by embracing their former love for stuffed animals. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, students of all ages utilized Squishmallows to cope with the lack of social interactions of which lockdown deprived them. According to the The New York Times in 2021, during the peak of Zoom classes, the sales of Squishmallows skyrocketed, heightening the demand for these plush toys. The correlation being none other than the need for comfort in a time of little social interaction. 

According to Righttoplay.com, playing with toys helps children to “recognize and express their emotions and develop positive relationships with peers and family members. It helps them to deal with anxiety and boredom and build their ability to concentrate and focus on what’s important to them.”

Anyone, no matter the age, benefits from owning toys in order to keep a sense of childhood innocence, which can be helpful when under stressful situations. If you just pay attention to things that have become popular during the pandemic, Squishmallows are not the only toys that seem silly, they are just one of the trends that has continued to grow and thrive. 

If being in lockdown has taught everyone at least one lesson, it is that you need to be comfortable with being alone with yourself. If you cannot entertain yourself and make yourself happy, then spending time with others isn’t going to fill that void. Although Squishmallows are just stuffed animals, they have allowed people to be comfortable with being alone and to activate the child inside of them.