On that day, young YouTubers like Annie and Hope, Miss Jayden B, ForEvaAndForAva, and Jacy and Kacy filmed themselves bashing in a cardboard fruit vessel and playing with gassy robot monkeys, then posted on YouTube and Instagram. Millions of young subscribers and followers found out about the new toy by watching their favorite cool girls on their computers and phones.

But Fingerlings most important coup was Mackenzie Ziegler, a singer and dancer who built her following on the reality show Dance Moms, and now has 8.9 million Instagram followers and 1.8 million YouTube subscribers.


After the monkeys tumbled out of the battered banana, Ziegler and her friend, Lauren Orlando, giddily played with the Fingerlings, exclaiming over the little adorable robots.

“It really is social media that’s driving this because it used to take weeks, months for things to catch on. Now you know millions of people could see them in a 24-hour period,” Chris Byrne, toy analyst and content director of toy trade publication TTPM, told Gizmodo. “It’s the same as you or I might have taken a toy to the playground and showed it to a friend who went home and said, ‘Oh I want that.’ But now [there are] hundreds of thousands of friends.”


Byrne, who is author of Toy Time!: From Hula Hoops to He-Man to Hungry Hungry Hippos, said it’s becoming more difficult for toy companies to engage young consumers, “You don’t have kids plopped in front of the television at a certain time watching Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon,” he said. “Now the media is so fragmented. Kids are consistently their own programmers. They choose what to watch, and they are likely to be watching things on a mobile devices. They become really fast consumers and sharers of media.”

According to Byrne, that environment is fertile for viral small toys like fidget spinners, Fingerlings, or last year’s big toy Hatchimals, furry critters that hatch out of eggs. But products that aren’t as Snapchat friendly, like big robots and construction sets, are less likely to take off.


So if you can’t find a precious, squawking monkey to gift a child this holiday season, know that the Fingerling was meticulously engineered—from meme to YouTube sensation—precisely to sell out.