Clare Greeman – In-House Toy Expert
It’s a pillow, it’s a pet, it’s the best man-made innovation of the century. What can you say about Pillow Pets that hasn’t already been said? They’re cuddly, cute, and they come in all different sizes, shapes, and creeds.
I think all of us (normal) kids remember seeing the Pillow Pet ads on TV. They would interrupt a block of Gumball, Chowder, or some God-forsaken Nickelodeon show and we would yell at our parents intermittently that we wanted that for non-denominational-winter-holiday and they would dutifully take notes. The commercials would show off all the features: the pillow, the pet, other things, and we were sold! And not without some help from the catchy jingle.
Now everytime I hear that song I fight the urge to get on my feet and dance around like I don’t have full control over my limbs yet just to be like the kids in the commercial that are a generation younger than me. Afterall, how many times can you see one of those purple unicorns nestled under a slumbering vaguely-non-white child’s head before you pick up that phone? For me it was negative six times.
It just goes to show that you can walk past someone and never know what they’re going through. For example, you could walk past me and never know that I’m struggling with a gripping Pillow Pet addiction that impacts my ability to walk past an ordinary pillow and not feel the urge to belt it around the middle and make it awkwardly hobble across the bedspread.
All that being said, I am not biased at all when I say that Pillow Pets are superior in every way to Squishmallows. Squishmallows are pastel colored turds with the most derritivative design I’ve seen on most mainline children’s plushies to date. And if you have a problem with that, let me ask you this: have you ever seen a Squishmallow and a Funko Pop in the same room? I rest my case.
Not only that but all Squisharshmallows have the same lifeless expression on their face. Pillow Pets have a wide range of emotions; The Sloth conveys a childlike innocence, the Unicorn betrays an air of superiority, Ms. Ladybug captures a sense of knowing unknowingness, and Buzzy Bee’s smile may be simple, but the twinkle in his eyes lets you know that he’s something special. Squishmallows only come in one flavor: the dead eyed stare.
And to accompany this vacant expression? The most childish drivel gracing Walgreens shelves today. Who wants a carton of fries, a pegasus-panda, a cat-unicorn-mermaid, or a crab in a hat! I mean, what’s next? A zebra in a headband? A princess tuna salad sandwich? The children today are growing up in a world of political unrest, possible threat of a world war, a climate crisis, and millenial parents. What use do they have for narwhal-pegasus-butterfly-pigeons when they could rest their head on something practical and stable like a bee or a cow. Who knows, the real thing might not even be around in a couple of years.
Additionally, the Pillow Pets have licensed characters. You can go straight from racing with Lightning McQueen to racing off to sleep. The Mutant Ninja Turtles can take you from taekwondo in the day to karate chopping your bad nights of sleep in half!
You can’t rest your head on a Squishmallow, you can only sink into a non-fluffy lump of down. You can’t play with a Squishmallow either, even with their bottom-heavy proportions, they tip over with the smallest gust of wind. Which brings me to my final point, what do Sqishmallows even do?
You can hug them, you can put them on your bed, and if you’re feeling really sentimental, you can collect them and tell yourself the value will go up in a couple of years even though there is no indication that it ever will. That can be done with most things. Pillow Pets can do all of those things plus two more things: be a pillow, and be a pet. What more do you need?
The Squishmallow craze will pass like all the Beanie Babies and Furby’s before it, but the world will never surpass the need for pillows that can also be pets. And even if a day comes where those things are made unessential, you can rest assured that the catchy jingle will live on in generations to come.