🧪 Slime sellers are gettin’ rich

Slime sellers are gettin’ rich and more in today's issue of The Hustle.

What’s going to happen in the business and tech space in 2023? We want to hear your predictions, whether they’re savvy or just fun. Fill out our survey, and we’ll share some of the responses next week.

In today’s email:

  • The Elf on the Shelf: A lucrative empire.
  • Chart: Canada’s record year for syrup.
  • Slime: A surprisingly bankable business.
  • Around the web: The history of Christmas markets, a speed-reading tool, cat Festivus, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Juliet analyze the Elf on a Shelf industry, maple syrup’s record year, news out of Netflix, and a whole lot more.

 
 
 
THE BIG IDEA

The Elf on the Shelf empire

According to “Elf on the Shelf” lore, Santa Claus sends an elf scout to spy on children from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Each morning, it appears in a new place in the home for kids to find. Each night, it reports naughty and nice behavior to the North Pole.

The whole thing stems from a 2005 children’s book written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, and illustrated by Coe Steinwart.

Bell told CNBC that Aebersold played a similar game with her and her twin sister Christa Pitts as kids, leading them to write and market the story with her as adults.

Today, the sisters are co-CEOs of The Lumistella Company, which houses…

The massive Elf brand

Despite criticism that the elf is creepy and normalizes surveillance, the glassy-eyed dolls have become a full-fledged empire.

Now, parents are being encouraged to also buy pets, clothes, accessories, “mates,” and a carrying case (since you’re not allowed to touch the Elf lest it lose its powers).

The Elf has also appeared via:

The company hasn’t released recent financial data, but Pitts told Fox Business that Lumistella employs 100+ people and has “adopted” out 22.9m+ elves, pets, and mates to date.

Pop culture loves Elf on the Shelf, too

It’s become a popular meme format and an SNL parody — not to mention inspo for the Mensch on a Bench, a Hanukkah version developed by Neal Hoffman and featured on “Shark Tank.”

 
 
SNIPPETS

Amtrak’s Airo trains, coming in 2026, have panoramic windows and upgraded seating. Some are electric-diesel hybrids.

Oops: H&M pulled a collection of Justin Bieber merch yesterday after the pop star told his fans that it was “trash” he did not approve.

“South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s AI deepfake startup, Deep Voodoo, raised $20m.

The US Postal Service will replace its aging fleet of 220k+ vehicles with even more electric ones than previously planned as part of a $9.6B project.

Netflix and drills: The company will start streaming 30 hours worth of Nike Training Club fitness classes starting Dec. 30. Smart timing, with New Year’s coming up.

Yikes: Two men were indicted for allegedly hacking Ring cameras to livestream swattings — making false calls to police to get them to send a swat team.

Update: AMC will not acquire Regal parent company Cineworld, which filed for bankruptcy in September.

Amazon could face up to $29k in fines related to 14 OSHA violations, claiming it improperly recorded work-related illnesses and injuries.

The blog squad built a guide to help you hack your way into the high-paying field of product management.

CHART
Maple Syrup
Olivia Heller

Maple syrup had its sweetest year ever in 2022

This has been a good year for Canadian maple syrup. The best ever, actually.

In 2022, Canada yielded the most syrup on record, dating all the way back to 1924. This year, producers made 17.4m gallons of the sticky stuff, a 53% jump from 2021, when warmer-than-ideal spring temperatures meant a shorter maple season.

  • In 2020, the industry’s second-most prosperous year, the gross value of that year’s 14.3m-gallon yield was $413m.

To meet demand amid last year’s poor harvest, with Canada responsible for 75% of the world’s maple syrup production, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers tapped into its strategic reserve. (Yes, that’s a thing that exists.)

The warehouse, north of Montreal, holds up to 94k barrels of maple syrup, or ~5.1m gallons — almost enough to fill eight Olympic-size pools.

 
 
FREE RESOURCE

How to make bank selling phone calls

We all know some good, gum-flapping contractors.

Across the estimated $657B home services industry, tons of them are willing to pay for clients, or even prospects. And phone calls are still one of the market’s most valuable leads.

Our recent Trends report inspects the mechanics of selling phone calls to contractors, with three ways to narrow down your niche:

  • Fields with the highest demand
  • Saturated industries to avoid
  • Areas with the most spending

It also highlights an adjacent opportunity: creating online directories where contractors pay for listings.

We deliver fresh signals and insights for business builders. Test-drive the content and community informing 15k+ builders.

 
 
SLIME TIME

Kids are getting rich off… slime?

Real ones remember the rush of watching someone get covered in green slime on Nickelodeon.

Now, slime is having a renaissance on social media, per Fortune. The hashtag #slime has been viewed 78B+ times on TikTok, propelled by users devouring ASMR videos.

Serious business

But the goo isn’t just for fun anymore: Gen Z and millennial creators are monetizing it for big bucks.

Some of the young moguls opened their online shops nearly a decade ago, only recently reaping the benefits of social media’s selling power. And sell they do:

  • OG Slimes receives 2k-3k orders/mo. and has surpassed $100k in monthly revenue for the last three months.
  • Snoopslimes, helmed by an 18-year-old founder, has 40 employees and is expected to hit eight figures in revenue for 2022.
  • Peachybbies operates out of a 5k-square-foot warehouse and sold 110k+ units in 2021.

The slimes they are a-changin’

Gone are the days of shapeless putty. Today’s slime is modeled after your favorite treats, from Icees and cookies to birthday cake and Starbucks drinks.

The recipe for prime slime usually starts with a mix of glue, borax (a common household cleaner, not a Dr. Seuss character), and baking soda.

So, even though it’s shaped like food, it won’t satisfy your cravings — but it just might improve your mental health.

 
 
AROUND THE WEB

📚 On this day: In 1825, a fire at the Library of Congress destroyed several books and a pricey rug, leading Congress to look into flame-retardant materials for the US Capitol.

🎁 That’s interesting: Christmas markets are popular today, but they date back centuries.

👓 Huh: Squirt is a browser extension that promises to help you read faster by displaying only one word at a time.

🏋️ Haha: A California cat rescue will celebrate Festivus a la “Seinfeld” with cats performing feats of strength and airing grievances. Tune in on Instagram at 1:30pm PST.

🐹 Aww: And now, they’re neck and neck!

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