Though there is no official data that declares the best-selling holiday toy for children of all-time, it’s fair to assume the lovable “Sesame Street” figure Elmo is high on the list of most popular holiday toys. Muc
h of that popularity can be traced to the introduction of Tickle Me Elmo in 1996. Though not the first Elmo doll, Tickle Me Elmo became the must-have gift of 1996, when parents searched far and wide for the doll that laughed when users tickled its stomach.
During the holiday season of 1996, many people paid far beyond market price just so their children could wake up on Christmas or Chanukah and have a Tickle Me Elmo doll to call their own. Since 1996, Elmo has been reincarnated many times over, and each Elmo doll seems to inspire its own craze come the holiday season.
Released in 1998, Walk “N” Talk Elmo was a popular children’s gift, as was Rock “N” Roll Elmo (1999), Tickle Me Elmo Surprise (2001), Chicken Dance Elmo (2002), and SHOUT Elmo (2005).
In 2006, Mattel, the company that produces the Elmo dolls, announced a special commemorative Elmo to mark the 10-year anniversary of the introduction of Tickle Me Elmo. That, too, sparked a buying frenzy, as some reports indicated private sellers were selling the latest Elmo, known as TMX Elmo, for thousands of dollars.