Giantmicrobes Inc. was founded about a decade ago with the intention of creating stuffed toys based on the actual microscopic images of various microbes as an educational tool for caregivers and young children, said Laura Sullivan, vice president of operations. The thinking is that children would be better able to understand what is happening in their body if they could see a softer, cuddlier version of it, Sullivan said. Before long, the company’s offerings expanded to a number of different of viruses and diseases, and the audience expanded with it.
About five years ago, the company began offering plush toys whose design was based on the microscopic image of the Ebola virus. Now, they are struggling to keep up with demand, Sullivan said. While she declined to give specific sales figures for the Ebola plush toys, Sullivan said: “They’re selling like hot cakes. We’re out of stock again.” They have ramped up production with their Chinese manufacturers and are rushing to feed the demand, Sullivan said. Their Ebola products – which include regular- and giant-sized plush recreations of the virus, as well a petri dish and something called “Primordial Putty” – are currently only available through the company’s website, but much of the rest of their line can be found in everything from hospital gift shops to college bookstores to medical supply stores.