When the Tickle Me Elmo toy craze led to a trampling

It was a time when the world needed more Elmo, mostly because doll manufacturers hadn't made enough of him to go around.

'Somebody in the crowd yelled: 'There's the Elmos!' and they rushed us'

Tickle Me Elmo sets off toy craze

26 years ago
Duration 2:34
Competition to get a new toy reaches its zenith.

It was a time when the world needed more Elmo. 

That's because in 1996, the people who made the popular Tickle Me Elmo doll couldn't put enough of them on store shelves.

"No wonder he's laughing — all the way to the bank — because North America has been gripped by Tickle Me Elmo hysteria," said the CBC's Jeffrey Kofman, when reporting on the Elmo toy craze for The National, as a shaking, laughing Elmo doll was shown on screen.

The craze saw shoppers flood stores in hopes of snagging an Elmo — but due to stronger-than-anticipated demand, this was hard for many parents to do.

'There's the Elmos!'

The pushing-and-shoving for the doll led to at least one actual injury at a Fredericton Walmart.

Media reports said 300 people had lined up for their shot at landing one of 48 Elmos that were being offered in a special pre-dawn sale that was held in December of 1996.

Demand for the Tickle Me Elmo was strong during the 1996 holiday-shopping season. (The National/CBC Archives)

"Somebody in the crowd yelled: 'There's the Elmos!' and they rushed us," said Robert Waller, a store clerk who was then trampled by charging customers. He was taken to hospital for treatment.

The Canadian Press reported that 150,000 of the Elmo dolls were made available for sale in Canada during the holiday season that year. Apparently, that wasn't enough.

The lack of supply spurred some people to put the Elmos they obtained up for re-sale.

As shown on The National, there were newspaper classified ads where sellers were asking $500 and $1,000 for the doll, which, if purchased in stores, was priced at $35.

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