Is Huggy Wuggy real? Confusing details behind the moral panic explained

Huggy Wuggy

A teddy bear-like toy with blue fur and a wide, janky grin going by the innocuous name ‘Huggy Wuggy’ is the cause of the most recent moral panic among concerned parents. Dubbed by some of the UK news outlets as the online version of the Killer Clown craze of 2016, claims of impressionable children following in the disturbing steps of Huggy Wuggy surfaced.

But as is the case with any online phenomenon, misleading stories and articles surrounding the character may have exacerbated the panic without much credence to the actual truth. After all, there is more to Huggy Wuggy than simply being an evil online presence terrorizing children.

Key Takeaways

  • Huggy Wuggy is a fictional toy character in the horror game ‘Poppy Playtime’ developed by MOB Games.
  • Rumors about Huggy Wuggy’s sinister internet presence originated in the United Kingdom following a Facebook post made by a concerned mother in March 2022.
  • Police warnings about Huggy Wuggy further inflated the panic and controversy surrounding the character.
  • Misleading rumors and claims made about the game character were addressed and debunked by news outlets such as Snopes and Rolling Stone.

Huggy Wuggy first appeared as the antagonist of the online horror survival video game ‘Poppy Playtime’ in October 2021

Huggy Wuggy today is known more for its apparently terrifying videos doing the rounds on YouTube and TikTok than for being a character in a video game.

Before it was associated with raising alarm bells in schools, Huggy Wuggy was and is, in fact, one of the major characters of ‘Poppy Playtime’, an online horror survival game available on the digital video game distributor platform, Steam.

Poppy Playtime
Poppy Playtime: Chapter 1 | Courtesy of MOB Games

The game was released as the first chapter of the ‘Poppy Playtime’ series by a Saint Louis-based independent animation and game developer company known as MOB Games (previously called Enchanted Mob) on October 12, 2021.

Set in an old and abandoned toy factory going by the name Playtime Co., the game features gruesome characters in the form of toys and has an age rating of 12 and up on iOS while the developers have endorsed it for players over the age of 8.

“There are just these big, evil, scary toys. It’s not gruesome, it’s not gory, it’s not nightmare fuel,” said Zach Belanger, the CEO of MOB Games, in an interview with FOX2now.

Huggy Wuggy, the malicious mascot of the game’s in-universe toy factory Playtime Co., is the main antagonist of the game and is now perhaps the game’s most infamous character. Talking about the deliberate gigantic proportion of the toy characters in the game, Belanger reasoned:

“What sounds scarier, you being one foot tall and a toy being one foot tall, or you being the same size you are now with a 10-foot (tall) toy walking in behind you?”

The disturbing controversy around Huggy Wuggy began in the United Kingdom in March 2022

One of the first stories to gain traction about Huggy Wuggy’s distressing content began in the United Kingdom on March 22, 2022, when a concerned parent took to Facebook (in a now-deleted post) to share a warning email she received from the school of her children.

According to the fact-checking website Snopes, the screenshot of her post read a letter from the school’s Safeguarding Lead informing parents about “a teddy bear with razor-sharp teeth that sings worrying songs about hugging and killing”.

A song lyric that went “I could hug you here forever, till you breathe your last breath together” was deemed particularly problematic as some schools reportedly witnessed children recreating the game in the playground. This involved hugging each other tightly and whispering sinister lyrics encouraging the other to “lean in for a spine breaking embrace”.

Another notable instance was reported where a mother said that her three-year-old son attempted to jump out of a window in the aftermath of being exposed to the videos.

“He got to the stage where he didn’t know the difference between reality and gaming. He tried to climb up my bedroom window, saying he would die and come back to life, telling me that’s what Huggy Wuggy does,” she detailed the incident to Sky News.

Warning statements issued by the police forces further inflated the panic surrounding Huggy Wuggy

On April 1, 2022, Dorset Police issued a warning statement on the subject amidst reports that young students were exposed to the “terrifying clips” of Huggy Wuggy “singing songs about killing”. As per Dorset Live, a spokesperson for the Dorset Police said;

“The blue bear-like character has long arms and rows of razor-sharp teeth. Set in an abandoned toy factory, Huggy is a villain in the game who stalks the players from vents are unreachable places. Videos of the game are available to watch on YouTube, with other clips dedicated to Huggy in songs.”

Moreover, the police and schools believed Huggy Wuggy’s kid-friendly name to be bypassing firewalls, making children even more vulnerable to the supposed violent and horrifying content shown via TikTok and YouTube, reported Dorset Live.

“It is a very deceiving character, as hugs should be seen as something kind and loving, and because of its cute name, it can infiltrate firewalls and filters. Please be vigilant about what your children are watching,” said Justine Brown, headteacher at Deal Parochial Church of England Primary School in Walmer, Kent.

Similarly, on April 7, 2022, the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office in Wisconsin issued a warning to parents on its Facebook page regarding Huggy Wuggy’s “initially child-friendly visuals which very quickly turn nightmarish” and urged parents to monitor their children’s online presence on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms.

While the warning specified that the said videos were fan-made, the contents were said to include “offensive language, cartoon representations of alcohol use, blood, stabbings, decapitations, attempted murder and the bloody aftermath of a car crash”.

Misleading claims about Huggy Wuggy’s threatening game content being made available on YouTube and TikTok for kids were debunked

When stories about Huggy Wuggy initially surfaced online, the articles on the subject failed to clarify that the disturbing songs associated with Huggy Wuggy emerged from fan-made videos and had no affiliation with the actual game developer MOB Games and nor were the videos extracted from the game.

Also, the character does not sing in the game and the only official song about Huggy Wuggy released by MOB Games is featured on the general YouTube platform as track number five of the game’s original soundtrack with the following lyrics:

“His name is Huggy, Huggy Wuggy, when he hugs you, he’ll never stop. Your friend Huggy, Huggy Wuggy will squeeze you until you pop”.

Snopes reported that while the fan-made videos were visible upon search on the general platform of YouTube and TikTok, the same videos were not available on YouTube Kids or TikTok for Young Users experience (the respective platforms of YouTube and TikTok aimed at children under the age of 12 and 13).

A spokesperson for TikTok confirmed to Snopes via an email that there is no direct evidence or record of the videos in question being available in the TikTok for Younger Users’ experience. Likewise, Rolling Stone reported that the search term for Huggy Wuggy appears to be blocked on YouTube Kids, and could not find any videos about the character on the platform as well.

“These videos are not available on YouTube Kids. Additionally, on YouTube Kids, all of our parental controls are free for parents to customize the experience for their children, enabling them to control what they can or cannot see. This includes the ability to handpick the content, choose content levels by age, block content, and more,” a YouTube spokesperson told Sky News.

The creator of the viral Huggy Wuggy song defied claims that his videos were made available on YouTube Kids

On November 18, 2021, the viral fan-made video of Huggy Wuggy singing the infamous lyrics “I could hug you here forever, till you breathe your last breath together” was posted on YouTube and amassed millions of views.

Huggy Wuggy

As the video became the subject of controversy, YouTuber TryHardNinja, the creator of the video, addressed the issue in a pinned comment made under his video on April 6, 2022. He clarified that the misleading stories or articles surrounding his video being made available for kids were not true.

Affirming that Huggy Wuggy was simply a monster in a horror game, he wrote:

“I don’t have any part in the game’s or the character’s creation. This is an unofficial song inspired by the character and has never been in the game or part of the official story. The articles that say that this is what “Huggy Wuggy sings” are factually incorrect.”

Debunking another claim, he also explained that his video would not appear on YouTube Kids as he had marked it “Not for kids” upon upload:

“There is no “bait and switch” in this video to try and mislead kids into thinking they are clicking on a video of a cute character to be surprised by an indie game monster.”

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