You’ve probably seen one stuck to a bank teller’s computer while you hold your breath and wait to hear your account balance. Your kid brought one home from school, its googly eyes unblinking at the bottom of her backpack. And you vaguely remember acquiring one when you were a kid, and debating what flat surface you could press its little felt feet against.
Weepuls — those fuzzy little pom-poms with stick-on eyes and adhesive-bottomed feet — were invented in 1971 by a toy company worker who was killing time while his parents were away. Tom Blundell, whose mom and dad founded a plush toy company called BIPO, was just messing around at work, attached some eyes to a pom-pom, gave it a pair of sticky feet, and left it sitting on his desk.
According to Atlas Obscura, when his parents got back to the office, they were taken by the little toys, and started selling them to department stores. They called them “Weepuls,” which was a mashup of “wee” and “people.” (You hear that, kids? If you’d been born 40 years ago, this is the kind of shit you’d have to entertain yourself with.)
Blundell bought BIPO and decided that Weepuls could be used to promote…well, a little of everything, if he attached little printed ribbons to their feet. And — again, because this was the 1970s — it worked. Atlas Obscura says that between 1971 and 2012, more than 400 million Weepuls were produced.
Unbelievably, Weepuls still exist. The current catalog has hundreds of standard and customized options, including a blue Weepul with, uh, a roof attached to the top of its head; a Weepul clutching a wine bottle and a glass; and a “Seasonal Weepul” wearing a Dracula mask, complete with a pair of blood-soaked fangs.
There’s a better-than-average chance that Weepuls will outlive all of us. And yes, you could probably have “We Welcome Our Weepul Overlords” printed on a Weepul of your own.
Check out this week’s Video Rewind that features a bunch of googly eyes on Broadway: