A couple years ago, my friend’s second-grade daughter got in trouble for being a unicorn. It’s not that Amelia’s teacher minded her wearing a horn throughout the school day, it’s that the other girls’ parents were starting to complain. Their daughters were following Amelia’s lead, rolling up paper, taping it to their foreheads, then returning to their Richardson homes—still unicorned—like it was NBD. And even after the teacher talked to my friend and her daughter about the single-horn situation, Amelia kept at it, affixing a fresh horn every morning. “She broke no rules,” my friend texted me. “But it’s really no wonder I don’t have any mom school friends.”
It turns out, however, precocious little Amelia was ahead of the trend. As I shopped for D Magazine’s gift guide earlier this fall, nearly every clerk in every kids store directed me to their mythical horsey merch saying the horned toys were hotter than ever.
“We’re unicorn central over here,” said a salesman at Froggies 5 and 10 a couple weeks ago. Indeed, the Knox Avenue shop carries unicorn pillows, unicorn lip balms, unicorn salt-and-pepper shakers, and unicorn toys that pop rainbow-colored balls out of their plastic mouths. For work horses, they have unicorn office accessories such as unicorn pens, unicorn paper clips, and unicorn tape dispensers. Accoutrements include unicorn socks, unicorn masks, and unicorn puppets made for fingers and hands. Shelves also hold a “mermicorno”—which is exactly what it sounds like—from the Japanese brand Tokidoki.
On a recent visit to Toys Unique, I counted no less than eight varieties of stuffed unicorns. Some pink, some as white and sparkly as fresh snow, plus a bin of Melissa and Doug Prance-N-Play unicorns (imagine old-school stick ponies, but with shimmery pink 4-inch horns).
But my favorite of all unicorn relics can be found at MiniME: A handmade unicorn horn headband from Brooklyn Owl. A piece so strange-looking, our art director fought me over its inclusion in the gift guide, lowering his voice to tell me that the item “looked almost phallic.”
Of course it does, I said. Unicorn horns are totally weird. Kids love unicorns because they are different and seemingly unique. And it’s the unicorn’s uniqueness that makes them so dang popular.