A bestselling journalist delivers the never-before-told story of the plush animal craze that became the tulip mania of the 1990s

In the annals of consumer crazes, nothing compares to Beanie Babies. In just three years, collectors who saw the toys as a means of speculation made creator Ty Warner, an eccentric college dropout, a billionaire—without advertising or big-box distribution. Beanie Babies were ten percent of eBay’s sales in its early days, with an average selling price of $30—six times the retail price. At the peak of the bubble in 1999, Warner reported a personal income of $662 million—more than Hasbro and Mattel combined.


The end of the craze was swift and devastating, with “rare” Beanie Babies deemed worthless as quickly as they’d once been deemed priceless.


Bissonnette draws on hundreds of interviews (including a visit to a man who lives with his 40,000 Ty products and an in-prison interview with a guy who killed a coworker over a Beanie Baby debt) for the first book on the strangest speculative mania of all time.

“Enlightening…. He writes fluently and has structured his tale artfully…. Most impressive of all, Mr. Bissonnette refuses to gratuitously trumpet his story as an emblematic critique of American culture, human folly or entrepreneurial greed—though of course it is all that and more.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Thanks to Bissonnette’s balanced and thorough reporting, the account of Ty Warner, founder of the Babies, becomes a portrait of a creator obsessed with perfection, making money in a business he loved, in a company built on his dreams.”
Booklist
 
“Bissonnette offers a crisp, investigative and presumably unauthorized biography of creator Ty Warner, 70, and a look at the rise of Beanie Babies and their swiftly ensuing three-year consumer craze... A spicy portrait of a taciturn toy magnate made entertaining with sensationalistic testimonial.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Equally heartwarming and heartbreaking, this accessible work will captivate.”
Library Journal, Starred review

“Bissonnette (Debt-Free U) does a masterful job of tracing the rise and fall of the Beanie Baby phenomenon of the 1990s . . .  This cautionary tale of elevated consumerism, with collectors fretting over what they didn’t have rather than taking pleasure in what they did, serves as a useful history lesson for today, told with wit and subtlety.”
Publishers Weekly

“The spectacular story of the strangest speculative bubble there ever was and the man behind it. A must-read for anyone looking to understand how manias start and markets go insane."
—LIAQUAT AHAMED, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lords of Finance

 

“Fascinating, strange, sad, funny, and entirely engrossing, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble is a smart, engaging book that’s as much about the odd saga of these plush toys as it is about the nature of obsession and desire.”
—SUSAN ORLEAN, author of Rin Tin Tin

 

“In spare, elegant prose, Zac Bissonnette tells the riveting story of how Ty Warner ruthlessly built Beanie Babies into a mania as misguided and regrettable as the 1637 Dutch tulip craze and
mortgage-backed securities in 2008. You won’t be able to put this book down.”
—WILLIAM D. COHAN, author of Money and Power

 

“The amazing story of the time the world lost its mind over little beanbag critters named Punchers, Humphrey, and Wingless Quackers. Zac Bissonnette takes us on a journey into the secretive world of the man behind the mania, Ty Warner.”
—BILL DEDMAN, coauthor of the bestselling biography Empty Mansions