Growing Toys, A Scientific Inquiry.

During a routine stop in a Dollar Tree, I took my usual stroll down the toy aisle. There, I noticed a ton of grow-able toys, the little toys that you stick in the water, and over a period of time, they increase in size. And while I’ve always seen them in the dollar store, this time, there was a superabundance of them. The variety of these toys that the Dollar Tree offers is mind-blowing–everything from sea creatures to hippies to circus animals to foods to dinosaurs. Somewhere, a Chinese factory worker can’t believe the sheer amount of shit Americans will buy. I bought three.

I’ve grown a few toys in my life, but I’ve never properly documented the process–a process I’m not even sure needs to be documented. The last time I did this I was a kid, and back then, certain factors impeded the scientific proceedings. For instance, I wasn’t allowed to have more than a glass of water to play with. There’s something sad about being a child and watching an object in a glass of water alone in your bedroom. You wait and wait. You eat a pack of cheese crackers. You come back and watch. And wait.

I was watching science happen, and no one was around to witness it but me. It was a lonely endeavor. It was a lonely life. I was certain that if I had full use of the bathtub, the toy could expand infinitely. It could grow to height of an actual dinosaur. IT COULD BE MY FRIEND.

Now I have the whole bathtub to fill with water. I have The Internet to share the results with. It’s legitimate. Stand back, world. I’m about to do science.

I chose my grow-able toys carefully.

A dinosaur -

A carrot, named Christopher-

And a string-ray -

And for the heck of it, I picked up a magic towel, too. Magic Towels operate under the same principle–stick ‘em in water, and they expand into a wash-cloth-sized towel.

The back of the packaging advised keeping these toys submerged for up to 96 hours in order for them to reach their full size–a promised 600% increase. I knew it would be a true first test of the girlfriend and I living together if she let me keep a dinosaur and a carrot floating in our bathtub for four days. Surprisingly, she was intrigued by the idea. Perhaps she, too, had always wondered what if?

What if we hadn’t had adults to say we couldn’t use the bathtub? We would never know the full potential, as we watched our glasses of water. What if they could grow to the size of giants? What could we accomplish? What could we learn? COULD THEY BE OUR FRIENDS?

I ran upstairs to fill the tub.

“How will we shower while you’re doing this?” was the only thing she asked.

“We’ll transfer them to the sink.”

“I like the carrot,” she said nonchalantly. She took a picture of the carrot with her cell phone camera.

“What did you do that for?”

“So I’ll be able to look back on what it was like living with you,” she said, as we watched the carrot float in the tub.

Next, I did the magic towel. Unlike the toys, the magic towels have more instant-gratification. They expand into towels immediately under water. It’s actually not magic at all. It’s just an towel that’s had all of the air vacuumed out of it.



Doing a magic towel was not as fun as I thought it would be. I’ll add this activity to a list that also includes Slip and Slides, moon shoes, and my attempt to become a Civil War history buff.

So how do these growing toys work? They’re made from super-absorbent polymers, classified as hydrogels. These can absorb and retain extremely large amounts of a liquid relative to their own mass, thus increasing both size and volume. This is the same type of material found in disposable baby diapers, adult protective underwear, and feminine menstrual pads. This means Christopher the carrot could also absorb urine and blood.

So I thought I’d keep you updated on the progress of the growing animals/carrot. That night, a few hours after plopping them into the tub, their masses had not changed much. The next morning, I photographed them, and they were each about 20% bigger. Then I transferred them to the sink for our showers.

Earlier, I was reading on the Internet that due to something about ionic concentrations, using distilled water could potentially grow the toy up to 50 times its original size rather than the 5 times that tap water does. THIS IS WORLD-ROCKING. This means I could possibly grow something humongous. Immediately after work tomorrow, I’m going to buy a gallon of distilled water and another grow-able toy.

In the meantime, check back over the next 48 hours to follow the results of the tub-growers. And stay tuned for the potential BIGGEST EVER distilled water grow-able toy.

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14 responses to “Growing Toys, A Scientific Inquiry.

  1. Excellent write-up! My linen closet is filled with those expandable washcloths – all featuring Spongebob.

    The carrot is AWESOME, but that sting-ray is looking a little ill…

  2. I’m worried about that sting-ray. It looks like it’s caught some sort of horrible nautical disease.

  3. My wife and I are on pins and needles. 50 times! I mean you’ll almost be able to ride that carrot down the street!

    I remember the Barney Rubble I got from a box of fruity pebbles growing in our bathroom sink. He was way slimy.

  4. Thank you for doing all this fine science work so the rest of us don’t have to.

    I also wonder who they thought who would be able to swallow the sting ray (or who would want to).

  5. I actually recommend NOT growing them too big. They lose their definition and character if they grow too big. Mark my words!

  6. I highly recommend the kind that come in an egg. You can’t be disappointed when they get bigger than the egg, right?

    http://twitpic.com/1in3o1

  7. Good god. This should not be nearly this exciting. But I am rivited, and I commend you sir.

    I will have the house to myself quite a bit this summer. You have tempted me into things Surfing Pizza. Terrible, dollar store things.

  8. hey after i read this it got me thinking can these things absorb oil? can someone test it out for me and report back results? beacuse i was thinking maby the littel toys can help do a big part to save the gulf from the bp oil spill. i have found some of these toys that can grow only under tempuateues of 96.8 degress faherenhight! if we do we might be put in books as eviromental heros! heck we might save more than that. but after if it could work we have to find some way to get all of them out of the water. and drie them out maby we shoul also put up nets so none of the sea life mistkes these for food and cause their oli to spill. so thats it just report back as soon as yuo can. good luck!

  9. ps. sorry about some of the spelling mistakes i forgot to check my letter after i wrote it.

  10. The carrot is awesome!!! :)

  11. What ended up happening?!

  12. Dude! You left us hanging! Did you ever get the deionized distilled water? I also read that, and I’ve been wondering if it really works or if its a wives’ tale.

  13. clearly growing it in distilled water was a mistake and it created a super carrot that killed them both D:

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