Huggy Jesus: The Machine-Washable Messiah

Stuffed Deity Wins Award for Tackiest Toy of 2002

By Dave Fox
Seattle, Washington

I almost crashed my car when I saw the billboard. “He is coming!” the sign proclaimed. Gazing ominously through the clouds was “Huggy Jesus” — a crude looking child’s doll.

Seattle traffic was bad enough without this sort of distraction.

I felt like I was in the middle of a bad Saturday Night Live parody. Then it dawned on me: This was not a joke. Huggy Jesus is real, and you can purchase him online.

Perhaps I’m missing the point. I was raised in a complicated religious environment — by a Lutheran mother and a Jewish father who took me and my brother to a Unitarian Church on Sundays. Now I’m a practicing Taoist. It’s safe to assume that I relate to the Higher Power in a different way from the average purchaser of a Huggy Jesus doll.

So forgive me, friends of Huggy Jesus, if I sound insensitive. I mean no disrespect. On the contrary, I’m concerned.

I’m concerned because when I was growing up, I had three stuffed dogs. Their names were Brown Dog, White Dog, and Blue Dog. I got them the day I was born. I took them everywhere. I sang songs to them and cuddled with them in bed at night. Brown Dog and White Dog and Blue Dog were with me always.

“So what’s the problem?” you ask. “What’s wrong with little boys and girls keeping Huggy Jesus with them always?”

The problem is I used to chew on the ears of Brown Dog and White Dog and Blue Dog. This is what young kids do with stuffed animals. I’m not versed in the finer points of Christianity, but it seems like a not-very-good idea to chew on Jesus’s ear.

Still alive and kickin’ after all these years: Globejotting mascot Sven Wondermoose chills with his homies, Blue Dog, White Dog, and Brown Dog.

The Dogs survived other traumas, like grape juice spills. My mother would wash them. According to the Huggy Jesus website, he too is machine washable. But is it okay to put Jesus in the washing machine? Do you go to hell if you get bleach in his eyes?

After my brother Steve was born, we started having stuffed animal fights. I would throw the Dogs at him, and he would retaliate with Kitty and Sammy Seal and Green Froggie. Sometimes, Steve would score a direct hit, and Green Froggie’s plastic eye would leave a big red welt on my forehead.

“Steven!” my mother would shout from the kitchen, “Stop throwing Green Froggie at your brother!”

“Dave started it!” Steve would respond as he whacked me on the head with Waldo Walrus.

This sibling rivalry is all a normal part of growing up in America. But throw Huggy Jesus into the mix and everything changes. Billy flings his teddy bear at Tommy. Tommy strikes back with Herman the Dinosaur. And in an act of six-year-old desperation, Billy whips out his secret weapon. With Huggy Jesus on his side he can’t lose!

His confidence soaring, Billy catapults Huggy Jesus across the room, hitting Tommy square in the eye. Tommy shrieks in pain, spiritually traumatized. Mom, exhausted from a hard day of being a mom, yells from upstairs, “Boys! Stop throwing Jesus!”

Even as a non-Christian, I am troubled by this scene.

I will admit this: When I woke up, I was in a foul mood. I was angry and depressed for no particular reason. Scowling, I snaked my way through downtown traffic. When I saw the Huggy Jesus billboard, I smiled. Well, actually, I laughed maniacally and almost hit the person in the lane next to me. But the accident was averted, and afterward, I felt happy for the first time all morning. I guess Huggy Jesus works in mysterious ways.

So I went home and checked out the Huggy Jesus website. If you’ve been reading this, thinking, “I need a Huggy Jesus in my life,” here’s some important information: Each Huggy Jesus comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity. “Remember,” the website explains, “the sooner you order your Huggy Jesus, the lower and more valuable your number will be!”

In other words, you should order Huggy Jesus right away so you can brag, “My Jesus is better than your Jesus.”

I guess it was only a matter of time before someone tried to outdo the Beanie Baby. Huggy Jesus is probably a good investment. And who knows? Maybe that low-numbered certificate will score you points in the afterlife.

Yes, the true spirit of Christmas is alive and well, and the manufacturers of Huggy Jesus will sell it to you for $29.95 plus seven dollars shipping and handling.

Just please, keep Huggy Jesus away from the family dog.

Letters to the Editor

Sean Pinkerton, the man who created Huggy Jesus, wrote in defense of the doll after reading this column. Read Sean’s e-mail.

Published on Saturday, December 14, 2002

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