At least once a week, 12-year-old Marli Perl gathers together the bare necessities. A large tub of glue? Check. Some bowls and plastic baggies? Got it. Food coloring? Good to go. And then she sets to work.
The Scituate middle school student has orders to fill and anxious customers to satisfy — customers who could easily turn to another supplier.
“I need to make more,” the girl’s mother, Lainie Perl Croke, said her daughter told her when the craze hit. “I promised to get it to them by Friday!”
What she labors to make, and what she has pledged to deliver to her middle school clientele, is “slime,” a stretchy, gooey, colorful mix of Elmer’s Glue, Borax or cornstarch, and any of what seems to be an endless list of possible adornments like glitter or scented lotions.
Slime is everywhere. If you’re in middle school, you either make it or have it custom-made to your liking. Stores can’t keep the glue essential to making it on their shelves. The Internet has been overrun with video tutorials and how-tos. Instagram alone lists more than 2 million posts with the hashtag #slime.
And young entrepreneurs like Marli have leapt in to fill the demand.
“I think this is sort of the creative fad of the moment,” said Millis resident Lori LaDuke, whose 12-year-old daughter, Katherine, spends hours in her room making slime.
LaDuke said her daughter has yet to sell her concoction because it’s more of a personal hobby.
“Although she is pretty entrepreneurial,” she said. “I’ll go upstairs and she has a little desk in her room and I’ll find her kneading slime and mixing things up. . . . When she has friends over or goes to a friend’s house, they’ll say, ‘Oh, let’s make slime!’ ”
For Marli, it started with a single pile of goop she took to school. Soon, customers started lining up. Since January, she has raked in around $80, shelling out baggies of slime for $3 or $5 a pop, depending on the size of the batch.
“I saw kids doing it, and they were making money; so I realized if I did it, I could make a good amount of money, too,” said Marli, who has become so good at making slime she no longer needs to measure ingredients. “So I bought the gallon of glue and other supplies, and started making it.”
Marli’s speciality is a “fluffy slime,” which calls for lotion and shaving cream for a smooth texture. But the variety of slimes on the market is expansive. Some slime-preneurs dole out “floam,” which contains tiny Styrofoam balls that make it crunch. Others make glittery slime, or shimmering “metallic” slime.
And the names are as creative as the samplings. There’s “Elf on the Shelf,” a green slime; “Winter Wonderland,” which has a sky blue hue; “Pomegranate Punch Slushy Slime;” or “Egg Yolk,” which looks like a pile of scrambled eggs.
The possibilities seem endless as students try to create unique formulas to best their competition.
Wakefield resident Alissa Story said her 12-year-old daughter Macie’s fascination with making slime and selling it began in January. A winter storm hit, and the kids were stuck inside. Out came the video tutorials, and soon, a slime lab was born.
Her daughter’s slime is so popular that Macie has an online order form where customers enter their preferred style and provide a locker number so she knows where to make the drop.
“We would [message] you to tell you what day to get your slime,” said Macie, whose lab consists of stacks of labeled, plastic containers. “So you put your money in your locker, and we switch it out with the slime.”
Her mother added, “She is truly learning about running her business.”
The slime hysteria has led to a recent spike in sales for Elmer’s, whose white “School Glue” is a must ingredient.
Caitlin Watkins, a spokeswoman for Newell Brands, which acquired Elmer’s Products in 2015, said the company has seen a recent surge in liquid glue sales “due in large part to slime mania.”
And finding it right now can be an exhausting, even fruitless exercise.
“We haven’t had in it weeks,” said Robin Carroll, a framing designer and artist at The Art Emporium in Needham. “The kids come in, and they go to all the local stores where glue might be purchased and it’s sold out.”
On a recent day this week, a group of young hopefuls charged toward the arts and crafts section of a Dorchester supermarket, only to be met by a shelf void of Elmer’s. They let out a collective moan.
“We’ve had to reorder, obviously,” said Carolyn Levosky, of Play Time Inc. in Arlington, which has also experienced a run on Elmer’s.
Linda Saccone of Scituate had to turn to Amazon.com to buy a “large jug” to help fuel her 14-year-old daughter Riley’s slime hobby.
“She will come home and just make a bunch, messing around with it for about an hour,” she said. “I think it’s great, at this age it’s great.”
But like many parents — and even the business-savvy youngsters themselves — Saccone doesn’t think this trend will stick around for much longer.
“It’ll die down before the summer hits,” Saccone said.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.