Whether you call them “Squirmles”, “Snoots”, “Magic Twisty Worms”, or “Worms on a String”, chances are you probably had one back in the 1960s or early 1970s that you bought straight off of the S.S. Adams practical jokes and magic tricks spinner rack (Adams called them “Magic Woolly Caterpillars”) during one of your family road trip Stuckey’s stops of your youth.  Nevertheless, their official name was Squirmles and they were invented in 1958 by Pierre “Peyo” Culliford who was looking to design something cute and fun for children to play with.

“Wait a minute,” you may be saying to yourself now, “Peyo? That name sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before?”

Well, Peyo was born Pierre Culliford in Schaerbeek, Belgium in 1928 and took on the pseudonym “Peyo” after his English cousin mispronounced his name.

At the age of 24, young Peyo began working as a cartoonist for the Franco-Belgian comic magazine Spirou. One of the comics that Peyo worked on was a series set in the Middle Ages called Johan et Pirlouit (or Johan and Peewit in English). It stars Johan, a brave young servant of the king who rides of to defend the weak on his trusty steed, while Peewit, his faithful, but conceited and conniving midget sidekick gallops closely behind on his goat.

Pierre “Peyo” Culliford

On October 23, 1958, Peyo introduced a character known as a “Schtroumpf” in the story La Flûte à Six Schtroumpfs – a little blue, human-like creature who live in a mushroom-shaped house in the forest and played the flute.  The Schtroumpf became so popular that other Schtroumpfs were introduced as well. By the early 1960s, they soon had their own comic series as well. In 1981, they even had their own Saturday morning cartoon produced by none other than the kings of Saturday morning cartoons, Hanna-Barbera that would soon conquer the hearts of young kids all across America.

Never heard of the Schtroumpf? Well, that might be because by the time they reached American shores, the little blue guys (and girl) would come to be known as the Smurfs.

Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay 

That’s right! The same guy who created the Smurfs in 1958 invented the Squirmles toy that very same year. Amazing, isn’t it?

Anyway, let’s get back to the worms on a string.

Squirmles were small, furry-bodied worm-like toys made of chenille and tapered at each end to look like a chubby, worm-like creature complete with two googly eyes and a hidden string that the user manipulated to give the appearance that the worm was, indeed, alive. Measuring around 8 ½” long by maybe a ½” in diameter at its widest, they originally came in six colors:  pink, orange, blue, yellow, green, and purple.

Squirmles saw a resurgence of sorts when they were reintroduced for use as material for fly fishing and, complete with googly eyes, rebranded “Dragon Tails” In 2018. Fishermen swear by them for their durability as well as their uncanny effectiveness in attracting game fish. They say it’s because of the same lifelike movements that attracted us to them during our stops at Stuckey’s.

You savvy social media users of apps like Tumblr, Amino, Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram might know them as part of the more recent “Worm on a String” internet trend where they’re used for projects including door beads and earrings and even to accessories jackets.  In fact, this new style has such a strong and creative following these days that the “Wormcore” aesthetic became an official internet subculture in 2019.

The theory is that the aesthetic started in 2017 after somebody made a joke on the Furby Fandom site on Tumblr about the Squirmles originally being a food source for Furbys. Afterwards, the phrase “Oh, worm?” became a popular Squirmles meme on the social media app, making the Squirmle popular once again. Wormcore soon followed in 2019, quickly becoming its own subculture which continues to today.

Hmm… If all of this has you thinking of starting your own subculture called “Rollcore” where you sew dozens of tiny pockets in your jacket that are just big enough to fit our 2 0z. Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls inside each one so you’ll always have a seemingly endless supply when you go out, we’re joining your group!

Seriously, though, if this article had you waxing nostalgic for the good old days of taking family road trips, playing with your toys in the backseat, and counting the miles to the next Stuckey’s, then why not head over to stuckeys.com today? Order some of our famous pecan log rolls, pecan divinities or pecan pralines while you’re there and have them delivered right to the comfort of your own home. We guarantee that first bite will take you back to that simpler time and those Stuckey’s locations that you’ll always remember.

Whether it’s our famous pecan log rolls and other fine pecan candies or our caps, t-shirts, and mugs, Stuckey’s memorabilia always make great travel collectibles. And don’t forget to add us to your travel bucket lists in 2021!

Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!