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Jell-O is finally capitalizing on the Instagram slime trend

Three years into the fad.

Regular slime, not the Jell-O kind.
Mami Gibbs/Getty Images

Jell-O is finally, sensibly — can you believe it has taken this long? — engaging with the slime trend.

The company announced two edible premade slime kits today: strawberry-flavored “Unicorn” slime and lime-flavored “Monster” slime. They are jars of powder that you mix with water, a slight simplification of the more common slime processes, which (at their most basic) involve mixing school glue with Borax detergent and food coloring and have gotten only more elaborate (Glitter! Butter! Cheetos!) as slime has become an Instagram star.

Slime is basically just a gooey fidget toy, and its stardom is predicated on people filming themselves playing with it. Kids love it because kids love goop. Adults love it because, as ASMR expert Craig Richard told Wired this spring, we love hands: “We’re hardwired to be entranced by hand movements. We evolved to learn fine motor skills by watching what someone else is doing with their hands, because the benefit of that is you just might learn something.” Logically, the British fashion and culture magazine Dazed recently launched an avant-garde short film called “A satisfyingly sensual study of slime.”

Jell-O edible slime, in Unicorn flavor.

Since around the end of 2015, the slime economy has been growing steadily, with popular slime artists signing book deals and making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month by monetizing YouTube or Instagram accounts dedicated to slime DIY how-tos and slime-related ASMR videos. Elmer’s glue sales reportedly doubled in December 2016, there are currently nearly 11 million slime-tagged posts on Instagram, and you can choose from 57,000 slime-related products on Etsy (about the same as the number of Game of Thrones-related products).

In a press release, Jell-O parent-company Kraft points out, not at all incorrectly, that “Slime has become a social media phenomenon,” and “While do-it-yourself edible slime recipes are popular on Pinterest and YouTube, until today, there hasn’t been an edible slime available from a national brand.” What it doesn’t acknowledge is that slime has been on the rise for at least three years. Why did it take so long for Jell-O to figure this out?

When reached for comment, a representative from Kraft Foods would only say that the idea first came up at Kraft in May of this year, and added, “By innovating an edible slime, JELL-O PLAY not only offers something unique in market, but also delivers a creative bonding experience that the whole family can enjoy.”

Oddly, Jell-O also doesn’t bring up the fact that it has been involved in slime culture before. One of the more famous slimes in history, the slime dumped on children and children-adjacent celebrities on Nickelodeon from 1981 to modern day, has long been concocted at home by fans, and two of the more popular recipes involve lime Jell-O. (Another is just applesauce and green food coloring, which, frankly, doesn’t sound like slime. Sounds like green applesauce.)

Anyway, a two-batch jar of Jell-O slime mix costs $9.99, significantly more than the cost per DIY project. (You could, if you wanted, buy nine pounds of Borax for $22.95) So is it worth it?

According to the product description, “UNICORN SLIME IS SO MUCH FUN. The slime stretches if you pull it slowly, but snaps if you pull it apart fast. It’s firm if you squeeze it, but it can also pour and drip like a liquid!” Plus, it’s “100% EDIBLE” and “GREAT FOR PARTIES.”

Then I read the preliminary reviews for Jell-O edible slime. They were written by Amazon reviewers so prolific that they have been designated, basically, influencers and are often shipped new products early to review in advance. I’d love to profile them all individually at a later time. For now, they have a lot to say about the taste of this product:

  • “It was easy enough to mix up and is flavored and smells like Jell-O, but is definitely not yummy to eat. It’s sort of a flavored corn starch. My DD [darling daughter] has been making various slimes for years and she said this was a bit of a disappointment.”
  • “Check out Youtube videos on fun with cornstarch, then ask yourself if an artificially flavored edible version would be up your alley.”
  • “This is a can of powder that can be used to make two batches of ‘edible’ clay, essentially Play Doh. I put scare quotes around ‘edible’ because this stuff tastes awful. I feel bad for any kid that tries to eat it. It tasted to me like artificial strawberry sawdust vomit.”
  • “Gave both of us some gas and cramps and the flavor was boring to boot.”
  • “My kids thought it was funny to try a bite but no one took seconds.”

Edible Jell-O slime is part of the brand’s wider Jell-O Play product lineup, which also includes edible construction kits with Lego-shaped Jell-O molds and a “Jungle Cutters” kit that includes animal-shaped cookie cutters. Jell-O is, I would say, broadly on trend, given our culture’s worrisome obsession with all things “retro” and “nostalgia.” (As I say almost every morning when I rise: Jell-O is low-calorie and beautiful, so why isn’t there an Instagram-bait pop-up restaurant yet? Kim Kardashian likes it!)

As an attempt to ride the slime trend, Unicorn and Monster may be a little late and, reportedly, a little grotesque. But they are certainly smart in concept. Slime does not seem to be going away, and only finds new audiences each day, and Play-Doh has yet to capitalize on it.

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