GIANTmicrobes is a toy company based in Stamford, Connecticut. GIANTmicrobes manufactures designer plush stuffed toys resembling microbes, including human pathogens such as E. coli and the Epstein-Barr virus.
The appearance of each 5-7 inch long toy is based on electron micrographs of the real microbe, thus the toys represent an approximate million-fold magnification of the actual organisms in many cases, and can serve as educational toys.
The Sun reported that while not many people would want to "cuddle up" to microbes such as E. coli and Streptococcus, the "fluffy" toys resemble real microbes magnified a million times, and since a photomicrograph is provided, people can compare the toys with reality. The Sun quotes "parenting expert" Catherine Hanly as saying that the scientific theme of the toys combined with their friendly looks gave them an appeal to both children and adults. The newspaper also quotes James Pritchard-Barrett, a UK distributor of the toys, as saying that they were "spreading like a pandemic - not just among children but health professionals and medical students too".
The Telegraph, under a photograph of a pale purple "Kissing Disease plush toy (the Epstein-Barr virus)", described Giant Microbes as a "bizarre" range of soft toys that are popular among students, care workers and children.
Chris Hinton, writing on Wired, describes the range of toys, including Shigella and Rhinovirus, the microbes responsible for stomach aches and common colds. He suggests that the toys will awaken children's interest in the microscopic world, while they also enjoy them as cuddly toys.
Anna Kuchment in Newsweek magazine writes that toy designer Drew Oliver thought of making giant microbes on reading Richard Feynman's Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman! which described seeing a microbe in a drop of water. Kuchment describes the product as a combination of "gag gift and educational toy", commenting that it is awkward to market, but admiring Oliver's infectious enthusiasm.
- Kuchment, Anna (28 September 2007). "Newsweek: Business". A Plushy Plague? This company's stuffed toys: Ebola, mad cow, flu and the Black Death. Newsweek. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
- (Staff Reporter) (19 November 2009). "Kids have got stuffed toy bug". The Sun. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "The Telegraph: Health Picture Galleries". Giant Microbes: Soft toy versions of bacteria and viruses such as HIV, Herpes, Swine Flu and Ebola. The Telegraph. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
- Hinton, Chris (8 June 2010). "Wired News: Geek Dad". Giant cuddly diseases make illness less scary for kids. Wired.co.uk. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
- Matheson, Whitney (2011-04-14). "This spring, cuddle up with your favorite germs". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-06-04.
- Hinton, Chris (June 8, 2010). "Giant cuddly diseases make illness less scary for kids". Wired.co.uk. Retrieved April 27, 2012.