Elmo the Muppet has been a star for years and years and years. Living on Sesame Street will do that, make you famous. Especially among the younger set. I mean the really younger set.

But it was 1996 when Elmo zoomed into superstardom. I mean, our furry little friend became a phenomenon. Why? Because now you could tickle him. I mean, on purpose.

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Every Christmas season there's a favorite toy or product. One year it might be a hula hoop, the next year a Barbie or maybe a Furby. One Holiday season it could be a Cabbage Patch Kid while another December Santa just has to bring a Gameboy.

When the Christmas lights were gleaming in 1996, all the kids wanted to do was...tickle.


Tyco Toys are the folks who brought out Tickle Me Elmo and even they were probably bowled over by the success of the furry little fella. To say he was a 'fad toy' would be a massive understatement.

On store shelves in July of 1996, there were 400,000 Elmo's and they sold pretty well. He was considered a success and then the day after Thanksgiving hit. They sold out. Gone. Vamoose.

What to do, what to do??

Another 600,000 were ordered, put in stores, and...well, the shelves emptied almost immediately. It was a shopping frenzy that got crazy. Reports of parents fighting each other in stores for that one last Tickle Me Elmo. Store clerks were injured in a 'shopping stampede'. Elmo's were selling for thousands of dollars...that is if one could be found.

All that for a Tickle Me Elmo that was price tagged at $28.99.

By the end of December, a million of the little ticklish guys were sold. And they're still around of course. In fact, the Tyco company thought 'Wow, we've hit a goldmine' and pretty soon there were Tickle Me Ernie's, Tickle Me Big Birds, Tickle me Cookie Monsters, and more.

Sesame Street must have been laughing all the way to the bank.

But none of those did what Tickle Me Elmo did, back there in the now long-ago Christmas of 1996. Became a pop culture phenomenon and a lasting memory for all those little kids that just had to have one.

And for the mom and dad, that got punched in the nose trying to get one.


Wikipedia Contributed To This Story

LOOK: Holiday gift crazes and fads of the past century

Stacker compiled a list of toy crazes from the past 100 years. 



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