Squishmallows — cuddly and quirky stuffed toys — are taking the world by storm, crossing generational boundaries from the toddlers they are intended for to young adult collectors. More recently, foodies have joined the group of ‘Mallow’ lovers, encouraged by a recent Squishmallow collection cleverly named the "Food Squad" which features food-themed friends, like Bernardo the Burrito and Bernice the Boba Tea

Squishmallows have been around since 2017. Originally for children, the plush toys quickly became a household name for Gen Z and millennials who fell in love with the brand. Since every Squishmallow is given a particular personality, story, and first name, the toys allow collectors to bring their favorite foods to life, not just to eat them but to also appreciate them (and cuddle them). The Squishmallows’ cult-like following created the perfect recipe for viral TikToks, forged an Instagram community, and created fame for a new type of influencer: Squish lovers.

Squishmallow influencers are mostly found on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Popularized by hashtags like “#squishmallowhunting” on Instagram and #squishtok on TikTok, Mallow lovers have created a community where the stuffed creatures are traded, exchanged, and sometimes sold for up to $1,000. Much like the sneakerhead community, the Squishmallow fandom has its own rules, customs, and rarity scales for limited edition or hard-to-acquire Squishmallow characters.

On Instagram, creators typically share impressive photography of their favorite Squish characters, meet other collectors, and participate in trades or exchanges. Kaylin — a 22-year-old Squish collector who owns 182 Mallows, also known as @squishbxtch on Instagram — said she’s met five of her best friends online since she started creating content showcasing her Squish collection.

“Prior to collecting Squishmallows I had never collected anything before,” Kaylin said to Spoon University. “It was super exciting to have a passion for something, even if it’s considered a bit ‘childish’ to the average person.”

Wholesome and inviting, the community is a safe space for young adults to collect and appreciate the toys, said 26-year-old Peach, known as @sweetenermallows on Instagram.

“Any person, no matter their race, or how they identify, is welcome here,” Peach, who owns 144 Mallows, said. “We always make sure to call out inappropriate behavior that may have occurred in the community and hold those people accountable.”

For many in the community, the fluffy friends provide a sense of comfort. “A lot of us are neurodivergent and many use Squishmallows as a way to cope,” Jenna — a 20-year-old Squish influencer known as @sapphicsquishmallows who owns an impressive 200 Squishes — said. “Having people to relate to is incredibly important, especially in rough times like the pandemic.”

Jenna with their Squishmallow collection. Image courtesy of @sapphicsquishmallows. Design by Audrey Wu.

The attraction to food plushies — seeing that two of the most sought after characters, Malcolm the Mushroom and Chanel the Cinnamon Roll are both food-inspired — unites foodies and toy collectors, both with a common love for storytelling. Jenna said they love the toys because they’re fun to photograph. These food Squish photographs require similar skills to food photography, including props, lighting, and other real food items, such as the whipped cream and peppermint paired alongside Marshina the Hot Chocolate.

“I got one after seeing them trend on social media,” Jenna said to Spoon University. “And it was so cute and comfortable so I bought a few more…and then more!”

Additionally, collector Kaylin (@squishbxtch) said that she loves the food Mallows in particular because “there’s something appealing about turning an inanimate object into a plush with a face, a name and an entire personality.” For example, Caroleena the Carrot is described as the “queen of impressions” who will “have you laughing in no time.” These affectionate personality traits can be found on the tags of a new Squish, similar to Beanie Babies.

Squishmallows are sold at a variety of retailers, but getting your hands on one of these sweet treats might be harder than you think. The food-themed ones were originally sold at Claire’s, Target, and Hallmark stores, but are now rampant in the resale market. Fortunately, you can find many of the adorable food plushies on the Squishmallow website (if they’re in stock), such as Sinclair the Avo Toast and Tex the Yellow Taco.

While the lore and fandom surrounding these toys is interesting, the food-related Mallows are the perfect gift for any foodie, toy collector, or college student in need of a fluffy pillow. For the full array of all Squishmallows, the official website has a Collector’s Guide that details all 1,000+ characters who have ever been released and sold. Listed below are some of the most hard-to-acquire food Mallow friends who are currently taking over the resale market because of their undeniable cuteness and rarity!

15 Foodie Squishmallows You Need:

1. Malcolm the Mushroom

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

While this cute fungi’s resale price for his 8” inch version is not insanely high, his 16” inch is highly sought after and can go up to $80-$100 on eBay and other resale sites.

2. Chanel the Cinnamon Roll

Courtesy of eBay.

Chanel is a limited edition Squish and deemed one of the rarest of the toys by Squishmallow lovers. The pastry plush goes for $500-800 dollars on resale websites.

3. Orin the Orange 

Courtesy of eBay.

This cute citrus toy doesn’t go for very high prices, but Orin is a classic collector’s item within the Squishmallow food-inspired collection. Not available on the original website, you can find him on resell websites.

4. Scarlet the Strawberry

Courtesy of eBay.

The adorable berry is a fan favorite and sold out on the original brand website, but is available on select resale sites. Be careful when shopping on websites like Amazon or eBay as many times they are not verified Squishmallow toys, but fake versions!

5. The Food Squad

Courtesy of Squishmallow.

Although these guys aren’t hard to acquire, they're the most realistic purchase for the average foodie and/or Mallow lover as they’re currently on sale on the brands website and at select retailers such as Target and Amazon. The Food Squad includes Maui the Pineapple, Sinclair the Avocado Toast, Bernice the Boba, Tex the Taco, Bernardo the Burrito, and Clara the Ice Cream Sundae.

6. Judy the Tangerine 

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

Judy isn’t the most rare or tough to acquire, but she’s special because of her tie-dye markings and glasses. She retails for around $20 on resale websites such as eBay.

7. Mo the Sushi

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

Mo the Sushi, who’s one of many other sushi-inspired Mallows, is particularly hard to find. His cuteness makes him relatively expensive, about $70, on retail sites!

8. Delita the Dragon Fruit

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

With only two listings on eBay, Delita’s a rare one! This precious plushie has a detailed design, including little black seeds and the signature green spikes of the dragon fruit.

9. Austin the Avocado 

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

Not only is there an avo toast-inspired Mallow, but an avocado, too! Austin’s one of the classic Squishmallows and is available in various sizes. He’s relatively easy to find and cheap to purchase.

10. Cannon the Candy Corn

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

If you don’t like candy corn, at least we can all agree on how adorable Cannon is. This little guy’s part of a seasonal Halloween release, but can still be purchased on resale websites for reasonable prices.

11. Floyd the French Fry

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

Fitted in a charming fries cup reminiscent of McDonald’s, Floyd was originally sold in a pack with Carl the Hamburger. This toy is common, making him easy to find and purchase.

12. Pep the Pizza

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

Pep, the charming pepperoni pizza, is very easy to find on websites, yet doesn’t get much love from Squishmallow collectors. Topped with pepperoni slices, mushrooms, and (most likely) scallions, Pep is the only pizza-related Mallow to exist.

13. Jordan the Gingerbread Boy

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

Jordan the Gingerbread Boy —wearing his insanely cute bowtie and holiday hat — was a seasonal release. He’s not considered rare, but would make for the perfect holiday decoration or pillow.

14. Phyllis the Peach

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

This peach-inspired plushie is unique for her exaggerated eyelashes and tiny green stem. She’s moderately expensive, but widely available through resellers.

15. Dash the Dumpling

Courtesy of Squishmallow Wiki.

Dash the Dumpling is a simple steamed gyoza with a sassy attitude and a wink! Not a common one for Mallow collectors but affordable on resale websites, Dash definitely deserves more love.