If you’re reading this and you’re not three years old or a parent, chances are that you’re blissfully unaware of the Nugget’s existence. The foam couch for kids is branded as “part-furniture, part-toy, and all-around the best thing to happen to playtime since, well, ever.”
But the story of the Nugget’s wild good fortune, a success story that has only blossomed during the pandemic, is also the story of how a kids’ product came to be swept up in the stream of online notoriety and, improbably, embraced by parents looking to use it for some fun of their own.
The first reporter to write about the Nugget’s success was Katie Notopoulos at BuzzFeed News back in November. Notopoulos had noticed that in several different Facebook groups for moms, people would ask what they could buy for their kids to play on indoors. “And every single response would be like ‘The Nugget, the Nugget, the Nugget, the Nugget,’” she tells me. This was interesting to her because the product wasn't being made by a huge toy company like Mattel. “It spread completely via word of mouth.”
“Part-furniture, part-toy, and all-around the best thing to happen to playtime since, well, ever.”
What was happening to the Nugget was remarkable: A small company run by three people, spending virtually no money on advertising, was becoming so inundated with orders that its prospective customers were driving up demand to an insatiable level. The company was having to institute a lottery system — a “Nug Lotto” — simply for the chance to buy an item. On the back of the hype, at least one person tried to sell their Nugget, which retail at $229 each, for as much as $10,000 on Facebook Marketplace.
Twenty-three-year-old Morgen Glory, from Atlanta, bought a Nugget in December 2019 after seeing them on Instagram. She was pregnant and also had a one-and-a-half-year-old son. Her son now uses the Nugget every day. “I like that it gives him something to do besides staring at a screen, that he has to use his imagination for,” she says. “We build forts, and he climbs on it and he pretends it’s a house and a spaceship and a boat.” When they go on vacation they take it to use as a bed for him.
Glory is a member of the official Nugget Facebook group (“Nugget Comfort Chatter and BST [Buy Sell Trade]”) and occasionally uses the forum as inspiration for “builds” — formations in which to arrange their Nugget. She paid the retail price for hers and scoffs at the idea of even paying $500 for one. “I know there’s an insane demand and although I love ours, I wouldn’t pay that much.”
There is another Facebook group associated with the Nugget — one that Notopoulos only mentions at the very end of her piece. In this group, moms allegedly discuss using the Nugget not for forts but for fucking. The group’s name is Nugget After Dark.
A month after Notopoulos’s story, Megan Zurn, a TikToker who talks about parenting under the name pushingastrollerinheels, made a video in which she amped up the frenzied nature of the Facebook groups, likening them to a cult. She said that it was customary for moms to take photos of a newly arrived Nugget with the dad of the house sitting on the box, “the less clothes the better.” She added, “Literally someone just recently posted their husband ass-naked on top of the box.” She also mentioned Nugget After Dark, which, she said, was a group in which moms talk about “banging all over their children's furniture.” The video has 3.3 million views and became the subject of incredulity on Twitter and elsewhere.
Notopoulos says that in large Facebook communities for moms, it is not uncommon for there to be a group devoted to just talking about sex. Some people selling their Nugget via the main group began needing to reassure potential buyers that their couch had not been “used after dark.” Glory points out that the Nugget was initially designed for college students, not kids, so she doesn't have a problem with people using it for sex. However, she says, “I just think a group dedicated to it is extra and kind of weird.”
Kya G, who is 30 and also lives in Atlanta, has two kids. She bought her first Nugget in March. She joined Nugget After Dark out of curiosity when she saw the group mentioned in the main Nugget discussion group, home to around 60,000 members. In her words, Nugget After Dark is “a safe space for parents that have connected over the Nugget to express relationship issues, advice, fun ‘after dark’ conversations, etc.” Recently there was a chat about where to get a good lingerie deal. She thinks that the gender split is probably 80-20 in women’s favor. It is forbidden to post photos of kids.
“It’s really just for a group of people, mainly parents, that found common ground over the Nugget Buy/Sell/Trade group to be a bit more vulgar,” Kya adds. Though she wasn’t an active member of the group, Kya saw no evidence whatsoever that moms posted photos of their husbands in the nude sitting on their orange Nugget box. (Unfortunately my Twitter search for “nugget husband nude” returns only tweets like “I only send husband nudes when I want him to bring me home chicken nuggets.”)
The Nugget provided the initial common ground for discussion, Kya says, but the furniture is not often mentioned in the group now. It is full of parents talking about things like lingerie, sex toys and sex drive, and asking for advice. There may have been one mention of the Nugget as a potential sex aid when the company started selling the wedge pieces individually, she says, but now its no longer very relevant. “It’s not like the group members have some type of fetish around sex on Nuggets,” she says. “The virality of it being this kink group obsessed with having sex on a kids toy is not what it is at all.”
I ask Kya if she would ever be tempted to use her Nugget “after dark.” “I’m not tempted,” she says, “but people have sex on couches and beds that they share with children. I think if proper protocols are taken so that any secretions can be cleaned properly, it’s not completely gross.” This is where the heated debate arises: Is the Nugget like any other form of furniture (it has a washable cover, incidentally) or, in that it is made specifically for children, does using it for sex constitute some form of unwritten sexual misdemeanor?
Unfortunately, I couldn’t join the Nugget After Dark group – as a result of the online attention from Zurn’s TikTok, it seems to have been taken down. (At least one TikToker claims that members of the group doxxed Zurn after learning of her TikTok video.) I only discovered that it had been taken down after joining a different Nugget After Dark group, consisting mainly of people either mocking anyone who decides to have sex on kids’ furniture or saying — either sincerely or in jest — that they have sex on kids’ furniture.
Does using the Nugget for sex constitute some form of unwritten sexual misdemeanor?
This group, set up on December 18 (the day after Zurn’s TikTok) and now comprising 5,700 members, appears to have been established in direct response to the original group being taken down. Posts veer wildly from “Any milfs in here?” to “how do you get cum off a nugget my grandbaby just started playing in it” to “How do I leave this group? No dots in the corner with the option to leave.” I tried to speak to one of the group admins but she left me hanging.
It may be that the brand is now the subject of a level of attention they are overwhelmed by, or unequipped to deal with. The main Nugget page, with 88,425 likes at the time of writing, is now attracting comments like “Youre ok with a group affiliated with your brand posting ‘make white women extinct’ memes ? You know...The chatter and bst group associated with your brand. Why are you silent?” The original group, Nugget Comfort Chatter BST, now appears to have disappeared as well, though it is unclear why. Input reached out to the Nugget team for comment but received no response.
In a TikTok posted the same day as the one that provoked this whole discussion, Zurn went into detail about the vice-like grip these brand-affiliated Facebook groups have on moms and their money: “From a marketing perspective it’s absolutely genius.… When you're in this season of life you're really just kind of looking for connections any way you can find them, and a lot of the times we find them in these groups. But then it just feeds this consumerism and this need to acquire things because you really want to keep up with everybody else.”
The strange tale of the Nugget is a heady mix of capitalism and sexual morality. Once someone buys a Nugget, is it any business of anyone else’s what they choose to do on it? “Nuggets were made for imagination, relaxation, and everything in between,” reads the company’s website. Is that a little wink in there at the end? We may never know.