When I was a a kid, 90s Nickelodeon was the channel and lineup that everyone watched. Unless you were a loser and didn’t have cable, you’d be glued to your television whenever that goofy orange logo appeared on the screen. More specifically, I vividly remember Nicktoons. Shows like Doug, Rugrats, and Rocko’s Modern Life were staples of my childhood media consumption, but one show was so weird and quirky that it captured my attention almost instantly. That show was Ren and Stimpy.
Ren and Stimpy was a cartoon beast of a different kind. Toeing the line between a kids’ show and inappropriately disgusting humor, I still don’t know how it made its way onto a wholesome network like Nickelodeon. I feel like it would have been more comfortable on a channel like Comedy Central or MTV, where the audience was slightly older.
Whatever the case, the show was a hit. Whenever a show is a hit, there is always a huge merchandising opportunity. Because Ren and Stimpy was a show unlike other shows, though, their merchandising was unlike other merchandising.
I remember the Christmas that I got my farting Stimpy doll. I hastily ripped the package apart to reveal the beautiful toy: equal parts toilet humor and colorfully cartoonish stuffed animal. For someone who was obsessed with juvenile humor like butts and boogers and farts, it was like a holy artifact. Every time I squeezed the little bastard, he’d let out a satisfyingly offensive sound that echoed through the plaster walls of my childhood home. I could not get enough of it.
As I grew older, the number of times I squeezed the flatulent feline declined steadily, but I never lost my affection for it. He still sits high upon my shelf, tempting me and beckoning me to come squeeze his belly and let his elegant gastrointestinal orchestra transport me back to simpler times. It’s toys like these that make 90s pop culture history lessons a worthy pursuit. They deserve to be recognized and appreciated.
Sometime you have a free moment, crawl into your dusty attic or basement and pop open one of your old boxes and just take a look through your catalog of playthings. I guarantee they all have a story to tell.