"Will That Kill My Kid?" Googly Eye Edition

80,000 or so of these guys are “Trash!” |  Consumer Product Safety Commission

80,000 or so of these guys are “Trash!” | Consumer Product Safety Commission

There are a lot of problems with this toy.

First it’s $20, which should be enough to buy a whole place setting.

Second, it’s plush, which makes it somewhat less convincing as trash turned security toy. "But it has to be plush,” you’re thinking. “Not even Disney can get away with selling a plastic spork for $20.” Except that they can.

But the problem that’s landed Forky atop newsfeeds is his choke-hazard googly eyes. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall of 80,000 Forkies announced on July 8, his eyes might fall off and kill you. Although no injuries have yet been reported, consumers are instructed to “immediately take the recalled toy away from children and return it to any Disney Store retail location, Walt Disney World, or Disneyland Resort theme park retail store location for a full refund.”

Now, I’m all for returning a toy if it means making an extra trip to Walt Disney World. I’m not on board with unnecessary panic about extremely unlikely dangers.

Most reporting on the Forky recall has stuck to three big talking points: 1) 80,000-or-so toys were recalled, 2) Thankfully, no children have yet been injured, and 3) Pixar has new inspiration for Toy Story 5.

The first two talking points are common in campaigns to boost awareness. A big number suggests that something is a big problem. “Yet” implies that it’s only a matter of time before the problem ends in tragedy.

I’d argue that we don’t need to be alerted to the potential dangers posed by googly eyes. The newsworthy number—there are 80,000 dangerous toys out there!—seems scary until you consider that Toy Story sold 25 million toys. By 2007. It’s safe to assume the franchise has generated more toy sales with two more films. So 80,000 dangerous toys is an incredibly small slice of the overall toys.

And how dangerous are those dangerous toys? Here’s what would have to happen for a plush spork to kill your child: Your child sees Toy Story 4. Your child is old enough to understand the comedy of trash made suddenly sentient, enough to draw pictures of his new favorite character and spend hours pretending to throw said pictures into the trash can just before you “rescue” them. Your child, whom you have also recently taken to a Disney theme park or Disney store, chooses this plush toy over all the other cuddly monsters and princesses on offer.

Forky is either “Trash!” or toy, but not food. | DP for snackdinner

Forky is either “Trash!” or toy, but not food. | DP for snackdinner

Such a child is probably old enough to know that Forky is either “Trash!” or toy, but not food. That’s probably why there are plenty of other googly-eyed faux-naif Forkies still on the market. The problem with this specific toy is that it was labeled 18m+, which falls under the CPSC’s small parts rules for toys intended for children under age 3.

The problem isn’t that there are 80,000 googly-eyed choke hazards in the hands of our kids. It’s that any very small child can choke on any very small thing. The recalled Forkies were just carelessly labeled.

So don’t throw away your Forky. Unless you’re still playing, in which case maybe just clean your trash can first.