Gabrielle Marquez, 18, has about 70 Squishmallows. She keeps the larger ones on her bed and the smaller ones on a bookshelf or tucked away in a toy hammock or bedroom chair. She said that the stuffed animals are especially popular with young people dealing with anxiety or depression. “If you’re feeling down it helps to have something to hug or go out and make yourself happy by buying a new one,” she said.

Ms. Marquez has enjoyed “being able to find a community of other people who share the same common interest and talk with them about Squishmallows during lockdown when there’s not that much else we can do. I use this hobby to connect with friends all over, I have friends in other states and Canada now.” Last Wednesday, her high school declared the day “Squishmallow Wednesday” during a virtual assembly.

“When I’m doing school I can look over at my bed and see a fun unicorn or dragon or octopus looking over at me,” said Isa Armstrong, a high school sophomore in Westchester, N.Y. “It just brings me happiness and that warm and fuzzy feeling.”

She and other fans said they liked the inclusivity reflected in the bios of the plush dolls. “They just released a couple Squishmallows that are gender-neutral and use they/them pronouns,” Ms. Armstrong, 16, said. “I feel like it’s normalizing it for children, and I love that.”

Ms. Wiles said she hopes to take her daughter out Squishmallow hunting again soon. “There’s something so innocent about it that I fully support it,” she said. “We’ve just spent an entire year where kids are just at home on their iPads, so just that there’s something that’s captivating them that’s so simple and pure, it’s kind of nice.”

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