After 20+ Years of Eggcellent Friendship, Tamagotchi Still Has Surprises Under Its Shell

Photo Courtesy: Tamagotchi on iPhone/YouTube; Bloomberg/Getty Images

If you were around in the latter part of the 1990s, you haven’t forgotten Beanie Babies, Furbies and Tickle Me Elmo — or the ways they spawned Black Friday-worthy crowds outside toy stores across the country. But one quintessentially ‘90s toy proved to endure the shifting sands of pop culture and our increasingly digitized society — not to mention those stampedes of eager shoppers. We’re talking about the curious and kaleidoscopic Tamagotchi, those bright, egg-shaped digital pals that taught us everything we needed to know about rearing alien lifeforms via LCD screen.

Aside from making waves in the world of pop culture, Tamagotchis were surprisingly prescient: Before kids were keeping their heads tilted downward, eyes fixated on their smartphones, we were doing the same — but our gazes were locked on the games, feedings and bathroom breaks necessary to help our digital eggchildren thrive. And the way this transition happened so seamlessly may have something to do with why Tamagotchis never really disappeared from our cultural consciousness like other toys of yore. It may not come as too much of a surprise, but these virtual pets even experienced an unexpected resurgence during the pandemic — a time when we needed a feeling of friendship and an escape from isolation more than ever.

And the legacy is only poised to continue. On July 1, the new Tamagotchi Pix landed in American toy stores, fueling a fresh wave of nostalgia for us ‘90s kids and introducing a new generation to the imaginative joys of toting alien fledglings around in their pockets. To celebrate, we’re taking a look back at the history of the Tamagotchi’s appeal — and some exciting developments the future may hold.