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Summer of Slime

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Call this The Summer of Slime.

The slime trend is probably happening right now in your home, if you live with a tween girl. Or maybe it's on your phone, in endless video loops that crackle and pop on Instagram and YouTube.

For Boomers and Gen X-ers who aren't aware, slime is like modern-day Silly Putty. Or Play-Doh. But instead of being able to copy newsprint on the gooey substance (remember newsprint?) or sculpt a grubby, avocado-green animal that resembles a Picasso nightmare, 21st century slime is slick and pretty. It's DIY and social media ready.

It's bright and fluffy, crunchy and glittery. Like unicorn poop would be, if unicorns existed and pooped.

“It's just really soothing to touch and stuff,” observes Stella Templin, a 13-year-old from Northampton, Massachusetts. “And the noises it makes are really, really satisfying.”

Full disclosure: this reporter purchased a 4-oz jelly jar of Cherry Bomb Slime from Stella who, with a friend, has a slime-making business that sells the concoctions for $8 each.

Yes, they are slime-trepreneurs.

More on that in a minute. Let's back up and explain these blobs that have taken America by storm. It's mostly girls who make it, video it and sell it.

Slime is easy to create with a bit of a mad-scientist feel to the process. Sure, there's pre-made slime, but there's not much excitement in that.

Glue, baking soda and contact lens solution are all it takes to make satisfyingly stretchy slime. Some recipes call for Borax (although concerns over chemical burns have led some goo-makers to substitute other ingredients), shaving cream or Tide laundry detergent.

The optimal slime is not too wet, not too sticky, stretchy and malleable. When squooshed by hand, it emits satisfying pops and bubbles, sounds that are part of the allure. Some fans watch videos of people playing with slime because they find the noises relaxing.

“The videos are satisfying because they help people calm down,” said Alyssa Jagan, a 15-year-old from Toronto, whose Instagram slime videos have hundreds of thousands of views. “Especially people with anxiety. My followers have said it helps them sleep.”

Elmer's, the venerable childhood glue, has pages of slime recipes on its website. Colored slime, glitter slime, galaxy slime. Large, jumbo and extra-large slime. It also has a helpful FAQ on slime, with pressing questions such as “Is there any way to revive old, hardened slime?” (Try adding water and kneading with your hands) and “Can slime be used on furniture or walls?” (Absolutely not.)

“It takes one bottle of Elmer's glue to make one batch of slime, and many consumers are making multiple batches or 'extra-large' batches of slime — so demand in glue is up significantly since the slime trend took off,” Elmer's spokeswoman Caitlin Watkins wrote in an email.

Because of the increased demand, the Elmer's team boosted production of various glues. Many parents feel the need to purchase glue in gallon jugs online because of shortages in brick-and-mortar stores.

At least one teacher reports that tubs of glue have been stolen from schools for at-home slime-making.

“It's really the most basic science recipe that you can have. You can put basic ingredients together and you get to be a little scientific and a little creative at the same time, and I think people enjoy that,” said Amy Anderson, a blogger at Mod Podge Rocks, who is planning on showcasing slime recipes this summer.

The goo has become something of a cottage industry for tweens who want to earn a bit of pocket money, or at least cover the cost of supplies. Alyssa has an Etsy store, and Stella and her friend sell on another site.

“Slime has been one of our top search items since last October,” said Dayna Isom Johnson, a trend expert at Etsy.

Slime can be annoying to parents, which could be part of its lure, as well.

Stella's mom, Naomi Shulman, says that a batch of pink-dyed slime has left streaks in the family's upstairs bathroom sink that might not come out.

It's also a way to connect with others. Slime is tailor-made for social media because it's so pretty — especially when it contains rainbow-colored beads or shimmery blue glitter.

Since March 1, Elmer's has received nearly 200,000 social media mentions about slime. And Alyssa, the 15-year-old in Canada, has nearly 650,000 fans on Instagram, all because of her slime videos. Her book, “Ultimate Slime: DIY Tutorials for Crunchy Slime, Fluffy Slime, Fishbowl Slime, and 50 Other Oddly Satisfying Recipes--Totally Borax Free!” comes out in November.

Sarah Rubens of St. Paul, Minnesota, reports that her family has witnessed the onslaught of Styrofoam beads, kinetic sand, shaving cream, food coloring, acrylic paint and, the horror of all craft horror, glitter. All are in the service of slime-making by her 12-year-old daughter Astrid, who makes it in the basement in what Rubens calls “The Slime Lair.”

A teddy bear and a neck pillow were recently sacrificed for their inner bead stuffing.

“If you put the beads in the slime it makes it really crunch,” Astrid explained.

Rubens thinks slime is a powerful sensory experience for a generation that's relied on electronics.

“I feel like she does some really deep thinking when she's got her hands in the slime,” Rubens said.

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