When other DIY crazes die, we might find that making and selling homemade cotton candy colored-slime on the internet has some staying power. After taking off in Thailand, handcrafted slime now amuses thousands on Instagram.
The original goopy toy was packaged and sold in sealed plastic trademark "trash cans." Then came the ghostly green goo of Ghostbusters, and a slew of toys offering sludge-like "ectoplasm" gel. Most infamous of all, slime was a Nickelodeon staple otherwise known as "gak." Getting "slimed" by surprise was the highest honor on children's shows like Figure It Out and the Kids' Choice Awards, a tradition that lives on today. But now slimers on social media are shedding the compound's gross-out factor origins and going in a new direction: eye candy.
Creating jiggly homemade slime with ingredients like butter, shaving cream, detergent, clay and high-demand glue has become so widespread that craft brand Michaels launched a "Slime Headquarters" online. Putty makers have made thousands concocting and selling different aesthetically pleasing varieties like flubber and floam, sometimes mixing in beads, glitter or confetti for an eye-popping effect.
Instagram is now a popular place to display and sell slime. Prim Pattanaporn, a 23-year-old Vancouver college graduate who displays "vanilla whipped slime" on her account SparklyGoo, started making the substance in February 2016 after finding her goopy muse on Instagram. “The more slime videos I watched, the more I felt compelled to touch it,” she told TIME.
The most interesting draw: people find the sensory videos soothing, just like stretching and squeezing the stuff can be. “The repetitive movement eventually becomes subconscious. It keeps my hands busy and almost redirects the stress to the slime,” she says.
That’s the case for another savvy slime entrepreneur, 15-year-old Alyssa Jagan from Toronto, who spends 20 hours a week whipping up slime with brightly colorful pigments and managing her account CraftySlimeCreator. “It’s a gooey stress reliever that has an interesting texture and makes satisfying sounds,” Jagan says.
They're fun to watch, but there is one lingering question. If the videos drive customers to shopping sites, how much money can a person make squishing goo?
For Jagan, it started as a hobby until her mother told her she had to quit because there was just "too much slime." So she had a thought: sell it for $7 a tub. Jagan has made $6,846 selling slime since August, she told TIME. Three quarters of her earnings go to supplies and she saves the rest for college.
Like Pattanaporn, Jagan recently slimed her way into a deal for an upcoming book. But above all, it's a creative outlet. “Nothing is more satisfying than mixing coloring or pigments into slime."