Remember When: Gak Stole the Goo Show

BY RYAN FOSMARK | JUNE 22, 2009 7:21 AM

There used to be a sort of inverse hierarchy as to which gooey, moldable substances were allowed in a household. Mothers could rely on the packaging in order to rate the acceptability of such malleable toys, and kids could do the same to ascertain how cool the toy would be.

There was the ubiquitous Play-Doh, which could be molded into creative sculptures, thrown, and eaten. However, kids seemed to bore of it quickly. The friendly yellow, cylindrical container let mothers know there wasn’t much to worry about from this toy in the interest of fabric safety, much like the standard tub of the forgettable Floam that never made much buzz in the goo community.

Did anyone ever try to eat Silly Putty? It didn’t taste all that horrible, but was difficult to get down like year-old gum. Silly Putty was like catnip for kids in daycare. They would hoard the stuff, for good reason, too. It was the pinnacle of gooey goodness. You could mold it, chew it, bounce it, stretch it, and really piss Mom off with it. Not to mention the copying feature it had on newspaper comics so kids could stretch Garfield’s head into all sorts of artistic renditions of butts. The bright red, atomic bomb-shaped container was an overt warning to parents that this stuff would maul any upholstery it touched.

Then, in 1992, Nickelodeon laid waste to the world of utilitarian toddlers. They no longer cared about molding, bouncing, stretching, eating, or copying. Gak was the most useless, yet mesmerizing toy of the goo world with its fluorescent colors and complete inability to maintain a consistent shape. It had a scent of strong toxic chemicals (though it was, in fact, nontoxic) that killed kids’ taste for ooze. The way it dripped over tiny fingers and made fart noises when squeezed was enough to make children forget about the entry-level Play-Doh and the excitement of Silly Putty. The “Splat” containers that Gak came in were star-shaped, clear amoebas that allowed parents to view the monstrosity of a toy within that was sure to ooze and seep into every fold in every piece of furniture in the house. Unfortunately, mothers caught on, and, for most, the first container of Gak was their last, cementing it into the nostalgic memories goo-loving ’90s children.

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