Something slimy is going on in America.
For months now, thousands of kids, from coast to coast, have been putting down their phones and iPads and putting their hands on something ... goopier. That's because the new trend in middle and high schools is making — and sometimes selling — homemade slime of all colors, scents, and consistencies.
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Some of their results resemble the "slime" or "gak" their parents grew up with — the slippery green stuff at birthday parties of yore. But most of the modern-day homemade versions are more similar to sweet-smelling Silly Putty in consistency and texture, and others could be called versions of Floam, the soft putty with tiny beads in it that give a satisfying crunch when you touch it.
Casey Duke is a 14-year-old eighth grader at Landrum Middle School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. After spotting a "very cool rainbow slime video" made by a user named PeachySlimes on her Instagram account's "Explore" page one day, she did a little Google investigating and decided to try to make it.
Using her own secret recipes that may include glue, foam hand soap, shaving cream, corn starch, foaming facial wash, scented hand sanitizer, lotion, and food dye, Casey now makes a variety of slime herself. She also adds special ingredients like glitter, nail art, foam beads, or sequins to make her foam interesting and unique. She sells the slime online through an Etsy store called Fruity Slime Factory.
Oh, and Casey has her own Instagram account for her slime business now too — with 40.1K followers after only four months in business.
"Bubblegum slime and clear slime are a couple of my favorites because of their unique textures," Casey told TODAY Parents. "Bubblegum slime's fluffy texture is a bit harder to achieve with white glue. Clear slime is made with clear glue and is a thinner texture with a glossy appearance, which makes it one of my favorites."
Bubblegum slime is also a favorite of Simone LeForestier, a 12-year-old Sacramento seventh grader who began making her own slime about three months ago after determining the slimes her friends were selling were too expensive. "I've been obsessed with it ever since," she told TODAY Parents.
Simone finds new slime recipes on YouTube, Google, and Instagram. She sells her slime to her friends on Instagram, and for right now, her school still allows slime to be sold on campus.
But Casey's school, like many others around the country, banned the selling of slime after it became too distracting and sometimes left messy stains behind in the classrooms. On Etsy and both public and private Instagram accounts, a search for homemade slime brings up hundreds of responses at prices that vary widely by size and type, but mostly between $2.50 and $9.00 per container.
Both Casey and Simone said that making the slime is even more fun than playing with the finished product. "Many students have starting sharing ideas and new ways to make slime through Instagram and other methods of social media," said Casey. "I feel like making slime is the best part, and I never seem to get bored with coming up with new creations."
Casey's mom, Julie Duke, told TODAY Parents slime is taking over her house. "We find it in the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and end tables in the family room and even a container in the car at times," she said.
But the biggest challenge for the mom of a slime entrepreneur is keeping her stocked with ingredients. Recently, there have been numerous reports of slime-related Elmer's glue shortages in the media, and moms in New York, Texas, California, and the Midwest reported going on hunts for glue for their little slime-makers only to be met with empty shelves at their local stores.
Chris Lounsberry, a mom of two in Central Florida, recently resorted to buying a 20-gallon industrial size supply of glue from Office Depot for her slime entrepreneur daughter, Hayley, when she couldn't find it anywhere else.
But Julie Duke says it is not shortages, but instead the time and distance she has to travel to find the various ingredients, that is taking a toll on her. "Between her father and I, we have made many trips many times to many different stores and locations, including Amazon, in search of the various supplies Casey wants and needs to create her unique and special slime," Duke said.
Near Boston, Massachusetts, Lori LaDuke's 12-year-old daughter, Katherine, has both her mom and her friends shopping for slime supplies for her own slime creations. "She makes slime all of the time. She has a slime factory in her bedroom," said LaDuke. "A few of her friends bought her glue and shaving cream for Christmas because she used all of ours up. She was going to sell it but decided to give it as gifts to her friends instead."
Meanwhile, Casey Duke's slime-making business has taken over both her own room and her mother's office. "Her inventory began stacking up on her shelves as she organized it in various rows based on color, consistency, and ingredients," said her mom.
Casey's room has been rearranged to accommodate her supply of ingredients and containers for packaging. A six-drawer dresser full of supplies is the backdrop for filming her posts on Instagram. Shelves contain the supply of slime she has for sale and eventually will package for delivery. And her mom's home office has been rearranged as the packaging and postal center for Casey's operations.
Duke said all the effort is worth it. "I am very proud of Casey's ambitious nature and excitement over becoming the young entrepreneur she is today," she said. "It is very evident that she is in tune with the popularity and interest of slime among teenagers today and continues to research and watch videos daily on how to better her methods of creating unique slime."
Though some of the parents we interviewed complained about stained carpets and Tupperware lost forever to slime storage, most all of them agreed that this is an obsession they can get behind. Aside from the creative aspects, many of their children find playing with the slime therapeutic. Several of them added that there are worse trends for their kids to engage in, and this one at least is — pardon the pun — hands-on.
"Casey has developed an outside interest and hobby that doesn't include any dangerous or harmful outside influence," said Julie Duke. "At the same time, her creativity and learning about what it takes to become an entrepreneur at an early age is very important to me."