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Creepy Crawlers: A Respite From Reality

by LaRie
(Columbus, Ohio, USA)




As a child, I used toys to escape my reality, which was often soul-crushing, since I grew up with an abusive and mentally ill father. I liked toys that were creative and artistic, and allowed me to express some of the feelings that I had no other venue in which to share them. My favorite toy of all time was the Creepy Crawler oven. With a simple light bulb, I could create stretchy little figures in any color I desired. It was a magic process to me. Nothing makes me nostalgic for my childhood more than thoughts of Creepy Crawlers.

I would go into the basement and take my Creepy supplies out. I would shut the door so I was oblivious to the bickering and unhappiness of the rest of the house. I remember plugging the oven in and waiting for it to get hot. I loved pouring the goop into the molds. I made complicated patterns on my creatures. I made spiders with a little flower on their backs, and psychedelic colored worms. I had some glow in the dark goop that I used to make a Superman set with a pull-on cape that I was particularly fond of playing with. They say sense memory is the strongest memory of all, and sometimes I can still smell the scent of baking Creepy Crawlers. It was a vaguely chemical odor, but in no way unpleasant…one of those things that is impossible to describe and must be experienced.

If they still made Creepy Crawler ovens today, I think I would purchase one and play with it again! It was such a thrill to peel my creations out of the molds and see what my bugs looked like, and I would love to relive my fun memories. What I am most nostalgic for about Creepy Crawlers is the glimmer of joy that little light bulb oven brought into my sometimes depressing childhood life.

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