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The Peculiar History of the Garfield Window Cling Fad

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The suction cup plush cat craze that swept cars in the 1980s

Garfield Window Cling plush cat 1980s car accessory fad

Photo: The News Wheel

Pop culture fads that come and go over the years can be truly inexplicable, and few crazes embody that truth as much as the Garfield window cling. This suction cup-equipped plush cat stuck to the windows of numerous cars in the 1980s. Someone you knew had a Garfield window cling latched to their car’s passenger window.

Turns out that the story behind this orange tabby plush is more interesting than its entire library of weekly comic strips.

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The Garfield window cling plush doll’s inexplicable popularity

Jim Davis’ Garfield the Cat is no stranger to merchandising. His wide grin and sardonic eyes have been plastered on every novelty item you can think of — including a suction cup-equipped plush doll that was on every minivan’s window at the height of the fad.

Mental Floss uncovered the fascinating origin of that trend and how it almost never happened.

By the early 1980s, less than a decade after his newspaper debut, Garfield the Cat had become a massively recognizable face in pop culture, and creator Jim Davis was always looking for the next opportunity to merchandise the feline.

Garfield Kart

Garfield even had his own racing video game
Photo: Anuman Interactive

At one point, he had the clever idea to attach Velcro strips to a Garfield plush doll that families could hang from their home’s curtains — like a cat mischievously climbing them. The factory producing the toy, however, messed up and attached suction cups instead of Velcro strips. Unphased by this setback, Davis decided to sell the product anyway, hoping people would still buy it to put in their front windows.

When Garfield Stuck on You hit the market in 1987, it became the next popular thing for people to stick on their overly decorated cars (alongside the antenna toppers and fuzzy dice). Units were flying off the shelves, and the toy producer — Dakin — kept up with demand by producing numerous costume variants of the orange tabby.

At its peak, Garfield Stuck on You sales hit $50 million, but by the close of the ‘80s, consumers had moved on to other fads and this Garfield was left in the dust. The only place you’ll see a Garfield window cling anymore is in the rear window of a classic car at a cruise-in or the shelf of a thrift store.

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Source: Mental Floss