slime
Years later, slime is still here. Why? (Illustration by Xingzhou Cheng, Fashion Institute of Technology)

Let’s Revisit The Popular Slime Trend From 2016

Even though the trend began all the way back in 2016, the gooey substance is still a popular toy for its colorfulness and ASMR qualities.

Thoughts x
slime

Even though the trend began all the way back in 2016, the gooey substance is still a popular toy for its colorfulness and ASMR qualities.

A few years ago, the bright and colorful substance known as slime took the internet completely by storm. It seemed like, as hard as you tried, there was no escaping the sticky stuff. Slime videos popped up all over Instagram and YouTube, and with 26 million views, one of the most popular videos was, “Most Satisfying Slime Video Ever!!! (Compilation) // diySatisfying.”

Every day, it seemed like more and more people were joining in on the trend. Shops that exclusively sold slime, like Slime Obsidian and Slime New York, became increasingly popular. Individuals started Instagram accounts where they filmed themselves reviewing slimes or playing with various forms of the toy they made from scratch.

As the trend continued to grow, the types of slimes grew more colorful and creative. Just a few of the slimes invented during the initial obsession included clear, clay mixes, foam bead mixes, jelly cube mixes and even artificial snow mixes.

How Slime Became Popular

The gooey substance existed long before the trend took off in 2016. It was created in 1976 by the brand Mattel, and it’s been a beloved kids toy ever since. One of the biggest appeals of the toy was its sticky and gooey texture. Slime was so popular among children that it was even used on Nickelodeon game shows in an event called a slime bath, where an unsuspecting participant would be completely coated in the gooey, green material.

Even though the substance has been loved by kids since it was released, it wasn’t used in the way it is today until around 2016; that’s when the shops and videos blew up. But what exactly caused the shift? When did slime go from a simple toy for children to an internet sensation? And why are people still so obsessed with the stuff four years later?

It doesn’t seem like there’s a straight answer to any of these questions, but there are plenty of theories. Some people argue that slime videos are so popular because of how visually appealing it is to see someone play around with a bright and gooey material. It appeals to people’s inner child, and they’re fascinated by the variation of the colors and textures.

It’s believed that one of the main reasons people love or hate slime videos is because of the squishy sound it makes when it’s touched. Slime videos fall under the category of ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. While this sounds like an extremely scientific term, very little research into the ASMR phenomenon has been completed.

Those who enjoy ASMR videos claim that they experience a pleasant tingling throughout their scalp, spine and other parts of the body when listening to an ASMR recording. Some claim that listening to ASMR calms them down immensely. And it’s possible that these experiences aren’t just a figment of the imagination.

One study completed in 2018 found that participants who listened to ASMR had observable physiological experiences, like reduced heart rate and increased skin conductance levels. There is some evidence suggesting that ASMR could have positive physical and mental health advantages, and that could be a reason why people are so obsessed with slime.

The Downside of Slime

It seems like slime could have some positive benefits for those who enjoy the sound of the substance, but not everything about the trend is good. The production of slime has increased since the trend exploded in 2016. Entire slime stores opened for business, creating different types of products to send out to consumers who want to buy their own gooey toys.

Hundreds of Instagram accounts popped up where people started to make their own slimes. The trend even made its way onto the popular app TikTok. The videos under the label “#slime” have accumulated over 11.3 billion views, and more videos are added to the bunch each day.

It makes sense that people would want to profit off of the insanely popular trend, but oftentimes people buy slime to play with until boredom strikes, and the toy is chucked into the trash. The practice of purchasing slime and throwing it out a few weeks later is problematic because one of the main ingredients in the substance is glue.

Glue is created by a mix of chemical reactions, and it’s not eco-friendly. While glue isn’t the worst thing for the environment, having huge amounts of slime tossed into landfills when people are done having their fun with it isn’t great. Plus, additions to slime such as foam balls, artificial snow and Styrofoam jelly cubes aren’t easily biodegradable, and unnecessarily dumping those into the environment can be hazardous.

Also, boron, another major chemical ingredient in most slimes, is dangerous to both humans and the environment. It’s harmful when swallowed, which isn’t a good quality for a kids toy to have. Once the slime is forgotten and thrown away, boron lasts in the environment for an extremely long time, and it can be hurtful to marine animals when it ends up in their habitats.

How To Make Your Own Slime

Luckily, there are solutions to the environmental problems caused by slime. You can skip out on buying the toy from online stores by making an environmentally friendly version from home. Some recipes include water, corn flour and food coloring. Others are made with cornstarch, food coloring and small amounts of non-toxic glue. Both are safe for kids to use and they don’t include boron.

At the end of the day, there are worse things for the environment than slime. However, for people who care about being eco-friendly and leaving as small of an environmental footprint as possible, these recipes make it possible to partake in the trend in a safe way. And if you don’t want to go through the trouble of making slime from scratch, watching slime videos on YouTube is still a great way to enjoy the trend and experience some ASMR for yourself.

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