There’s a new documentary now streaming on HBO Max that takes a deep dive into the Beanie Babies craze of the 1990s, and wouldn’t you know it, a group of women from Naperville takes a leading roll.
The director of the documentary, Yemisi Brookes, did an interview with Entertainment Weekly. When she was asked who was at the heart of the Beanie Babies craze, and she said it likely would not have become the global collectors frenzy that it did without a group of “soccer moms” right here in Napverville:
Everyone always talks about the phenomenon of Beanie Babies, but actually, what created and drove that phenomenon was just a few women from this Chicago suburb. I found that really interesting because I didn’t think that part of the story had really been told before. Essentially it was a group of soccer moms — so-called at the time — who mainly lived in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago. And they just started collecting Beanie Babies and then were really methodical about recording when they got them and making lists. If you look at the phenomenon in detail, without those women, it’s unlikely that the phenomenon would ever have reached the height that it did.
…and as I said, when we tracked it all back, it really did come out of this one cul-de-sac in Naperville and the surrounding areas. So yeah, that part was fascinating for us, and those women at the time were almost like celebrities. They were traveling around the world, they were speaking at events, they were selling, they were buying, they were writing price guides. So yeah, they were really big. Beanies was like a whole subculture.
Now I, along with every living soul who grew up in the 90s, were involved to some degree in collecting Beanie Babies, but I had NO IDEA the epicenter was right here in the western suburbs!
If you’d like to take that deep dive yourself and cruise down memory lane — maybe even dig out that crate of Beanie Babies you likely still have in your attic or crawl space — Beanie Mania is now streaming on HBO Max.