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As Holiday Shopping Officially Begins, Zhu Zhu Hamsters Rule

  • Time, Wednesday, November 25, 2009 10:24 AM
Fuzzy, electronic toy hamsters with names like Mr. Squiggles, Pipsqueak and Num Nums that coo, drive cars and ride skateboards are emerging as the hit, must-have toys of the holiday shopping season, Sean Gregory reports. Zhu Zhu Pets are only $8 a pop at Walmart if you can find one, but are going for as much as $60 on secondary-market sites like and

"This is the hottest toy of the year," says Gerald Storch, chairman and CEO of Toys "R" Us. "There's absolutely no doubt about it." Needham & Co. analyst Sean McGowan thinks they'll be the biggest toy craze since Tickle Me Elmo in 1996.

The rodents are made by Cepia, a seven-year-old, 16-employee company in St. Louis started by Russell Hornsby, a former Mattel employee. In a brainstorming session about creating a robotic toy, Cepia execs last year narrowed the list of candidates to a fish, a dog and a hamster. "Out of these, [a live] hamster is the one parents least like getting," says Natalie Hornsby, the company's marketing director, and Russell Hornsby's daughter. "So we figured a toy substitute would have some value."



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1 comment about "As Holiday Shopping Officially Begins, Zhu Zhu Hamsters Rule ".
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  1. Sue Canes, November 26, 2009 at 10:48 a.m.

    Can't find a Zhu Zhu?
    TickleMe Plant seem to be the Green Alternative. No batteries required - yet it moves when you Tickle It!
    It may teach kids the responsibility of
    taking care of a living pet like plant.
    The TickleMe Plant is the real house plant that MOVES when you Tickle It! I first saw this in the Botanical Gardens and got the greenhouse to grow it in their gift shop. If you haven't grown a TickleMe Plant, you are in for a treat. The leaves suddenly fold up and the branches droop when you Tickle It! If you don't live near the a Botanical Gardens you can search the net or find then at If you still don't believe this is real - see the video. It is more like a pet then a plant. If you are having a party This is one gift no one forgets.

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