A fuzzy little guy you might remember from your own childhood has wormed its way into the hearts of meme-loving teens.
It’s literally that cheap, pipe cleaner–like toy that you maybe once got at a carnival or in a birthday party loot bag. The brand name is Squirmles, but the internet has dubbed it “worm on a string.”
The whole contraption is just a worm with a pair of googly eyes and a string attached, so you can make it look like it’s squirming around. They come in five colors, cost a few bucks, and have been around for decades.
Here’s a professional at work.
They’re so stupidly simple, so frivolously silly, that they’ve become the sort of meme Gen Z can’t get enough of.
Worm on a string has been a recurring meme since 2016, according to Know Your Meme, but Google Trends shows its virality is now at an all-time high.
Worm on a string is also a versatile meme, with the primary emotion being adoration for the wee critter.
You can pretty much take any other meme and add in worm on a string.
Or just go for something weird.
Worm on a string has also been remixed by illustrators. There’s truly nothing worm on a string cannot do.
Some people are even making the meme into a business. Karli Taylor, a 19-year-old student from Arizona, turns the worms into earrings and sells them on Etsy.
She first encountered worm on a string when she was 10, and fell in love all over again after finding them on Amazon recently.
“I’m not entirely sure why they got so popular so quickly again! They’re just a cute, colorful friend with googly eyes. Who wouldn’t want that?” she told BuzzFeed News.
She even has a friend who buys them in bulk and hands them out. Her earring business started as just a silly idea, but she sold seven pairs pretty quickly. After her TikToks blew up too, she made the Etsy page and made six more sales on her first day.
“It’s truly just a worm renaissance living in 2019,” she said.
On TikTok, worm szn is in full swing. People are people making giant versions, for example.
There’s also a “worm on a string check” audio clip.
And worm on a string crafts, like this wig.
This person got a whole-ass worm on a string stick-and-poke tattoo.
Does any of this make sense? No, of course not. But that’s the point.
The way 2000s teens defined humor by ~*randomness*~, Gen Z aims for “irony.” And by irony, they mean, for example, complete infatuation with a silly little worm toy.
The beauty of worm on a string is that there’s nothing more to it. It’s a worm, it’s fuzzy, it has a string, you can do little tricks with it. Worm on a string will never ask anything of you, never subtweet you, never try to sell you laxative lollipops on Instagram. Worm on a string is cheap, cheerful, and doesn’t require a plug into anything.
Worm on a string is just the sort of friend you need in 2019.