Slime trend oozes into Comic Con territory as Tampa’s first Slime Rodeo arrives

It’s a fan convention for people who like to buy, make and play with the goo that has become a social media sensation.
Published March 13
Updated March 13

The social media sensation of slime has led to a run on glue sales, created Instagram celebrities and now inspired a local fan convention, a sold-out gathering of people gaga for goo coming to Tampa on Saturday.

A 13-year-old from Texas is behind the Slime Rodeo, which takes over the Tampa Convention Center this weekend. It’s her third slime-focused fan convention — and she says she picked Tampa this time because it has an airport that’s easy to get to. Good thinking: The Slime Rodeo sold all of its 1,800 advanced tickets, and organizers say two-thirds of those were bought by out-of-towners.

They are likely drawn by the many Instagram slime celebrities lined up, who have a combined following of more than 11 million fans. Slime videos make the list of YouTube’s top 50 most common search terms. The number of Instagram posts tagged #slime more than doubled from last year, up to 12 million and counting.

PREVIOUSLY: Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey squishy slime craze.

The slime of today is far more viscous and elaborate than the thin green liquid that Nickelodeon shows dumped on celebrities back in the ’90s. It’s easily made at home with school glue and contact lens solution or borax, then customized with glitter and beads and more.

“I’m kind of surprised but I’m also not surprised,” that her idea took hold, said Jalen Chuck, 13, in a telephone interview from her San Antonio home. Like millions of others, she became enamored of making slime at home, decorating it and finding deep satisfaction in simply stretching, squeezing and playing with the goop. She started a side slime business and sells $10 jars of her own slime, earning her about $1,000 a month on Etsy.

Earlier last year, Chuck saw there was a fan convention in Connecticut and raised the idea with her parents, Teresa and Jon Chuck, who coincidentally run an event planning business. Their first Slime Rodeo debuted in Dallas in July 2018 with more than 1,800 “slimers.” San Antonio was next with what was supposed to be a Junior Slime Rodeo in November. More than 1,600 people showed up.

Saturday brings Tampa’s first Slime Rodeo, and it has already sold its 1,800 advanced tickets. “Twilight Tickets” are on sale ($15-$20) for 2:30 p.m. admission, so the attendance number could grow.

What should one expect at a slime festival? There will be vendors selling and demonstrating how to make slime, contests and games like slime tossing and a “slime lasso.” Also, you can bring your own slime creations to compete in the “Slimey” awards.

These days, it seems like there’s a convention for almost every niche, from toys to horror, Harry Potter, anime, video gaming and now slime. And since nerds of a feather love to flock together, Visit Tampa Bay, the tourism nonprofit that markets the area, has taken notice and hired a dedicated account director to tout Tampa as a geek gathering spot.

By comparison, MetroCon attracts thousands of multi-day attendees every year as the largest anime convention, and Tampa’s Comic Con shattered the single-day attendance record for Tampa’s convention center when it drew some 44,000 fans in superhero regalia in 2014. (The previous single-day high was the Republican National Convention in August 2012, when about 15,000 people were in the building at one time.)

RELATED: Nerds, celebs help Tampa Comic Con break attendance records.

Planners will keep an eye on whether slimers cause a similar bump in economic impact, a Visit Tampa Bay spokeswoman said.

So, why slime?

Therapists have lauded the healing sensation of slime, how it calms the user. Psychology Today compared playing with slime to a meditative practice of mindfulness, a psychological practice that brings one’s focus and awareness into the present experience. The viral success of oddly satisfying slime videos shows no sign of slowing down.

One of Saturday’s big draws is the 16 “Slimelebrities” lined up.

The biggest is Talisa Tossell, a YouTube slime star with almost 2 million followers. Others include San Antonio middle school teacher Rachel Woodworth, who has more than 284,000 following her Instagram account @bookshelf.slimes. She says she has made a nice supplemental income selling her slime.

And Slime Rodeo’s creator Jalen Chuck, who goes through five gallons of glue a week to supply slime for followers of @jammy.slimes on Instagram, said she looks forward to meeting the many people she has talked with online. They all have a common love of slime.

“It’s more like a sensory toy, when people put things into it like beads and objects, and they all have different scents,” Jalen said. “I think it’s a creativity platform.”