Jess Thomson writes on the quarantine obsession with a giant fuzzy teddy bear from everyone’s favorite Swedish bookshelf purveyor.
You might not know Djungelskog by his name, but you’ve probably seen his face. He has popped up on every corner of the internet, universally craved, omnipotent. He is a hero, a saviour, a comforting blanket of fuzz coating the hearts and warming the souls of the entire planet. He is everywhere, yet nowhere. He’s also fucking adorable. (Except to cats, as seen in this TikTok.)
Djungelskog was the internet's favourite bear in 2020. One of IKEA’s most popular items, Djungelskog is a 100cm-tall coffee-coloured teddy bear with sweet little beady black eyes and a melancholy aura. He's chubby and slightly sad-looking — much like myself for most of the past 12 months. He has taken Gen Z in particular by storm. Everyone seems to want some of his love.
“This big brown bear always greets you with open arms” effuses Djungelskog’s product description on the IKEA website. “Cuddly like no other and with a lovely giant stomach where you can feel safe resting — in other words, a real softy.” This description is apparently accurate, as nearly every single review is 5 stars and sings his fuzzy praises, with one user named Betty leaving this review:
“The most precious boy. I am an adult woman who bought this purely because he’s the most beautiful boy I have ever seen. My husband doesn’t appreciate that I find him slightly more huggable than him, nor that he is sprawled out on our bed instead of him 90% of the time, but I think he’s slowly coming to terms. Nobody who encounters the Djungelskog can resist his charms. He’s a delightful friend.”
A delightful friend, indeed. Djungelskog has become a meme. Countless Tweets proclaim love for him and the pain of not being able to access him: Djungelskog was sold out in many stores for long periods last year. Girls cry out, rejecting all men in return for one soft night sleeping on his fuzzy chocolate-coloured belly. Many, myself included, would willingly lay our lives on the line to preserve his angelic little face. Once a mere hibernating mammal, he has been elevated to a symbol of comfort, of relaxation, of inner peace and acceptance.
So much of internet culture during the past year has been about romanticising your life and indulging in things that make you happy in the face of the crumbling of Western civilisation. Djungelskog is the ultimate partner in crime in that respect. He watches on, without judgement, in your darkest moments. He comforts you and wipes away your tears, letting you bury your face in his marshmallow-like belly. He sings along into the hairbrush as you jump on your bed, screaming out your favourite song, coming-of-age movie style. Even if you weren’t one of the lucky ones who was able to welcome Djungelskog into your home, you can be safe in the knowledge that out there in the world is extremely large bear who won’t judge you when you order in nachos 3 nights in a row.
He is a bear of the people, there for all in spirit if not in body. With so many people feeling isolated over the past year, Djungelskog deftly fills the stuffed animal-shaped hole that has yawned in us since we were children. He makes us whole again, in a way. Thank you, Djungelskog. For everything. — By Jess Thomson