In late February 2017, news stories about homemade “slime” (a mixture of white glue, water, sodium borate, and food coloring causing a purported shortage of Elmer’s Glue were popular on social media:
The homemade concoction is closer in texture to the jiggly “Gak” sold by Nickelodeon in the 1990s than the dripping green liquid the TV network regularly dumped on kids and celebrities, which is called slime. It’s simple to make (instructional videos can be found on YouTube) and requires only a few household items, often jazzed up with food coloring and glitter.
According to news reports, an “Elmer’s Glue Shortage” is sweeping the U.S., while on Facebook and Twitter a handful of parents have asked the company about whether their popular product is truly in short supply, as some local stores don’t have the product in stock (although online retailers do):
@karenoel people are going wild for slime and buying all the glue they can find, we recommend trying an online retailer for now
— Elmer’s (@Elmers) February 23, 2017
@Blakebabauta We recommend trying online retailers if you cannot find Gallons in your local stores
— Elmer’s (@Elmers) February 26, 2017
A representative for the parent company of Elmer’s Glue told NBC that plans were in place to step up production of Elmer’s White School Glue in response to increased demand for the product:
“Elmer’s has indeed seen a surge in sales. In the second half of 2016, Elmer’s saw an increase in liquid glue sales due in large part to slime mania,” Caitlin Watkins, a spokeswoman for Newell Brands, the parent company for Elmer’s brands, told NBC News.
The firm plans to increase production of Elmer’s White School Glue, the most popular glue for making slime.
Instagram and YouTube are filled with images and videos of teens crafting and playing with the gloppy material, customizing theirs with different colors, sparkles, and beads or balls. Some even sell their creations to their classmates or online.
A Walmart representative concurred, telling NBC that:
Walmart has seen a rise in glue sales, and we are rolling out a plan to respond to the increase to make sure kids and parents can find the glue they need to have fun with the latest crafting trend.
Although a handful of shoppers have expressed difficulty locating suitable Elmer’s products to meet with their progeny’s demands in local stores, for the most part replacement glue appears to be readily available within a day or two through online ordering:
As of 28 February 2017, online retailing giant Amazon stocked Elmer’s White School Glue (although gallon units were backordered until 7 March 2017).
The spate of “Elmer’s Glue shortage” stories came with predictably scaremongering speculation the “slime” craft was potentially harmful. However, a WPRI investigation titled “Is ‘Slime’ Safe?” answered its own question in the affirmative:
Some parents have shown concern over the use of Borax, but according to Dr. Jason Hack from Rhode Island Hospital, the slime is safe.
“It’s a small amount of Borax,” explained Hack. “It’s not absorbed through the skin. It would take eating a lot of it to actually become toxic.”
“The only one caveat is it’s not too pleasant if you get the dust in your eyes,” he added.