Man, the 90s had some awesome toys. 

Remember The Incredible Crash Dummies? How about those fantastic X-Men figures from ToyBiz? We had Yak Baks. We had Street Sharks.

Snowy Saturdays were spent parked in front of the Super Nintendo, while street cred was built upon the sort of slammer you were packin’ during those soon to be banned schoolyard POG matches. 

It was a simpler time. A time before social media and selfies. When collector cups were still made of glass, blockbuster movies were reserved for summer and a toy manufacturer teamed up with a television network to give the world a stupendously stretchy slime that captured the imagination of kids across the globe thanks to bright colors, impressive elasticity and an overly hilarious ability to make fart sounds.

Hey, I did say it was a simpler time!

Grab some Dunkaroos and a bottle of Surge, it’s time to take a look back at Nickelodeon’s Gak!

What is Nickelodeon Gak?

Nickelodeon Gak is a slime-like toy designed by Mattel in 1992. Gak was designed to mimic the slime from the popular Nickelodeon show Double Dare. 

A Stupendous Slime!

Kids just couldn’t get enough of its mysteriously wet-yet-dry texture and super stretchy capabilities. Was it a liquid? A solid? There was no way of knowing! And yet, despite such questions, the product flew off of store shelves in a way that no one saw coming.

In fact, Gak was so popular that 160,000 units of the stuff was sold by Walmart in just three weeks’ time! 

It would go on to become one of the must-have items of the 1992 Holiday Season, and would easily trump the sales figures of such similar items as Nutty Putty and the popular Ninja Turtles Mutagen Ooze from Playmates.

What is Nickelodeon Gak?

Nickelodeon’s Gak was a hit, but this was not the first time that a stupendous slime had taken the world by storm!

A Slime By Any Other Name…

Throughout the 1980s, slime-based products could be found in any number of toy stores. Nearly forty years after Silly Putty had accidentally arrived on the scene, toy manufacturers large and small saw the potential of the gooey substance and looked to market it in any number of the big toy brands of the day. Especially given its massive appeal to children.

Kenner would incorporate slime into many of their Real Ghostbusters items, while Mattel looked to top all of its competition in 1986 with the release of the impressive Evil Horde Slime Pit Playset – which served as part of their popular Masters Of The Universe assortment.

At the same time, many of the original Playmates Ninja Turtle offerings would use slime as a major play feature. Numerous discount brands could even be found in any corner convenience store. Some as close as the nearest cash register.

So, what was it about Gak that set it apart from the rest?  

Well, it all started with that name…

A Glorious Goop!

Before the release of Gak, Mattel had brought their own brand of slime to market. Packaged in a plastic trash can, the stuff was marketed to the children of the ’80s as “…gooey, drippy, oozy, cold ‘n clammy!” Appealing, right? Well, at least to kids it was! 

Mattel’s slime was inspired by a similar substance used on the popular television show You Can’t Do That On Television. A Canadian sketch comedy series, it ran for ten seasons beginning in 1979 and incorporated an iconic green slime into many of its episodes.

Slime soon became synonymous with Nickelodeon after the show began running on the network in 1981, and was later used in many of their competition-based programming. This included both the popular Double Dare and the beloved 90s Canadian game show Uh Oh! respectively. 

Specifically on Double Dare, many of the resulting messes made on set during play were said to have been dubbed as ‘gak’ by the show’s crew.  Thus, the story goes that this is where the marketed slime would eventually end up getting its name from. 

Interestingly enough, the term gak had actually originated as the street term for heroin in the United States. This apparently ended up being quite the source of amusement behind the scenes of Double Dare when Nickelodeon used the term for their new product, obviously unaware of its origins.

What is Nickelodeon Gak Made Of?

The full list of what Gak is made of has never been released by the manufacturer. Independent analysis by the Artech Corporation determined the main ingredients in Nickelodeon’s Gak is a combination of acrylic and silicone, with a few other random things thrown in for good measure.

The acrylic portion of the recipe, which was non-toxic and safe for consumption, worked at thickening the product. At the same time, the silicone acted as a sort of putty. Interestingly, this made Gak airtight when it was stretched and was what resulted in that trademark farting sound every time you squished the stuff back into its container.

Gak also included glycerin. It is said that this was added to the recipe to make parents’ hands feel softer when they played with it – thus chipping away at any distaste they may have had toward buying their children something that looked as though it was capable of making quite the impressive mess. Especially if it happened to be left in the care of an unattended minor.

Countless varieties of Gak were produced

It also included clay and a few germicidal agents that would prevent colds, flus, and other classroom contaminants from being transferred between kids during playtime. A smart move on Mattel’s part for sure given how frequently kids tend to pass their favorite toys around the playground throughout the day!

Is Nickelodeon Gak Discontinued?

Nickelodeon’s Gak has been discontinued and brought back several times through the years. The original run of Gak started in 1992 and was sold to Jakks Pacific in 1999 and discontinued in 2004 as it began to decline in popularity.

Although Gak is currently not on the market, you can still find yourself a container online if you know where to look.

Nickelodeon Slime Bucket 3 Pack; Pink Neon Slime 24oz, Blue Neon Slime 24oz, and Gold Glitter Slime 24oz
60 Reviews
Nickelodeon Slime Bucket 3 Pack; Pink Neon Slime 24oz, Blue Neon Slime 24oz, and Gold Glitter Slime 24oz
  • Nickelodeon Slime Neon and Glitter buckets offers unlimited fun in 3 super cool colors
  • Spend hours of fun squeezing, twisting, stretching, and squishing playful slime

It’s Gak…With A Twist!

Before it went the way of slimes of yesteryear, the company made sure to offer consumers a few key variations before it all came to an end.

Perhaps one of the best known of these was Gak-in-the-Dark. Capable of doing exactly what it sounds like, this slimy stuff was capable of glowing an eerie green after being exposed to light.

Oh, and there was also Solar Gak. This one would change color after spending some time in the sun. Think a goopy version of all those crazy HyperColor t-shirts from back in the day.      

For the more adventurous, there was also Smell My Gak! It hit stores in 1996  along with the other variations mentioned above and featured a selection of scents that included Pickles, Flowers, Vanilla Ice Cream, Buttered Popcorn, Sunscreen, Hot Dog, Pepperoni Pizza, and Baby Powder to name but a few.

However, perhaps my most favorite version was Gak’s Alive! Aimed at those with a thirst for knowledge, this dark blue substance contained iron particles. Kids could then use the included magnetic wand to make this particular Gak move all on its own! It was a lot of fun, and I can remember my fourth grade teacher being more than a little enamored with the stuff. Still, it certainly made for some fun and memorable science classes!

Enter The Gak-Cessories!

Alongside these numerous slimes, Mattel released a few unique Gak accessories in an effort to enhance play and offer consumers a little more bang for their buck. 

These included both the popular Gak Vak and the very fun Gak Inflator. 

Not long after that popular duo hit retail, Mattel also offered such specialty items as the plus size Gak Pak, the Gak Lab, Gak Copier, and the Nickelodeon Deluxe Gak Gift Set. There were also Gakoids, which were containers shaped as strange creatures whose eyes, nose, and mouth would pop out when Gak was squeezed through the bottom of said container.

The Nickelodeon Gakulator

Despite all of these add-ons and variations, Gak was one of those rare items that really didn’t need anything extra to be fun! It was the sort of product that appealed to kids of all ages. Heck, it even appealed to adults – this even though many of the Gak ads that ran on TV at the time featured moms and dads looking on in disgust while groups of neon-clad kiddos joyously pummeled that stretchy goo to their heart’s content!

 It didn’t matter if you were a boy or a girl. A dad, mom, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, or nephew. Gak was for you! And, it was loads of fun – even all on its own! And, how could it not be? It came in all sorts of wild colors, stretched further than anything else on the market at the time, and did I mention it was also capable of making some pretty hilarious fart sounds?

Oh, I did? Aright. Moving on…

The Gak Came Back…

As I mentioned earlier, Mattel was all but done celebrating ‘slime time’ before the end of the decade. However, that is not where the story of Gak comes to an end.

In 2012, NSI International would bring the stretchy stuff back to the market. Featuring modern branding and shelf appeal that they hoped would put the slime back in the public eye as never before, the company would bring back all the popular colors and variations of Gak from back in the day – and even released some brand new accessories that they hoped would elevate playability with an entirely new generation of children. 

Alongside redesigned versions of the Gak Vac and Gak Copier, NSI International hit the ground running with a host of other fun products that included Mood Gak, Twisted Gak, Super Stretch Gak, and more. 

This second incarnation of the cool compound didn’t stay on shelves for as long as its predecessor. However, it would only be a few years more before NSI International brought Gak back for one final go-round in 2017.

Nickelodeon Slime Bucket 3 Pack; Pink Neon Slime 24oz, Blue Neon Slime 24oz, and Gold Glitter Slime 24oz
60 Reviews
Nickelodeon Slime Bucket 3 Pack; Pink Neon Slime 24oz, Blue Neon Slime 24oz, and Gold Glitter Slime 24oz
  • Nickelodeon Slime Neon and Glitter buckets offers unlimited fun in 3 super cool colors
  • Spend hours of fun squeezing, twisting, stretching, and squishing playful slime

A 90’s Icon!

While the days of Gak may be done and gone, there is no denying the fact that many of us still look back upon that stupendously stretchy substance with a smile.

Neither trash nor a toy, this fascinatingly fun compound captured the imagination of kids and adults alike with its mysterious properties and endless appeal. While at the same time proving that sometimes there is just nothing more satisfying than groping some goop.

Nowadays, there are plenty of knockoffs out there. Yet, if you ask me, none will ever compare to Gak! Perhaps it’s because I was more than a little nostalgic for the days of cassettes and clackers. Or, maybe it’s because I can appreciate the genius behind the fact that something so simple seemed to effortlessly take the world by storm all those years ago.

Whatever it may be, that OG 90’s slime has spent the last three decades stretching around my heart. And, that is where it shall forever stay, looked upon with fondness as a true pop culture icon of the 1990s. One that showed us that sometimes you just need to stop what you’re doing and take a few moments to stretch some slime!