Tipped in the press to be the must-have toy for Christmas, Flamm, the new Sorgenfresser character is already sold out.
Sorgenfressers are little soft characters with zips for mouths. Open the zip to pop in your worries, and zip it back up. The Sorgenfresser’s say ‘whatever is bothering you, put your worries on a piece of paper and feed them to me’. I asked my chidlren last night if they were worried about anything, to which my son said ‘monsters’, and my daughter, ‘the dark’. Instead of drawing a picture, we just popped the monsters and the darkness inside, and they each had a turn at zipping it up. They both felt much happier and slept soundly until 7am this morning.
We interviewed Gerd Hahn, the inventor of Sorgenfresser on this amazing idea.
What is the background for the concept of Sorgenfresser – where did the idea originate from?
It was in spring 2008, when the inventor Gerd Hahn tossed and turned in bed. An American client hadn’t paid a major contract. Should he risk a legal dispute to be heard in an American court? How would he possibly be able to continue managing his Berlin based film production company? He thought about the future of his employees, his family. At 4am in the morning, all he wanted was a huge monster to come and eat up this mountain of worries of his.
Waking up next morning, he called his draughtsmen and discussed the idea of creating a cuddling plush toy: cute enough to be taken to bed, but with such a determined outer appearance that one would be assured that it will be able to handle worries of all sorts and sizes. The most important feature for him was: the zipper mouth where the troubles and frustrations can be safely stored away. A few sketches and sewing attempts later SAGGO, the first Sorgenfresser (German for worry eater) was sitting on his desk.
What about the practical side of bringing Sorgenfresser to life – what happened from the first ideas/sketches to the final dolls that are seen in the stores? – How did the designing go?
It only took a few days to bring the sketches of the first Sorgenfresser SAGGO to life. The sewing machine got turned on and within a short time hours SAGGO was sitting there. From then on more ideas came up and doll for doll enriched the portfolio.
The SORGENFRESSER sales success started humbly in a little toy shop in the nowadays hipster area Prenzlauer Berg of Berlin. The owner was asked to display SAGGO and two of his brothers for a test in the shop window. The next day all three Sorgenfresser were sold. That was the moment it was a given that the idea would catch fire. Gerd Hahn invested his own money and assigned a little factory in Hungary to have SORGENFRESSER manufactured. As the producer of the world success Mia & Me, it was not so difficult for him to find a reputable licensee company for SORGENFRESSER. He already worked successfully with Schmidt Spiele and KIDDINX Berlin in the past and he is positive that SORGENFRESSER found a comfortable home from where to start their world career.
It is known that the concept involves the dolls eating sorrow and worries. The zipper mouth comes in handy for storing small stuff the kids want to store away or wanted close by when sleeping. What other reactions have been received so far other than the originally intended?
The list is very interesting. Letters from psychologist, teachers and parents are received. They tell us how much easier it is for children to open up to their favourite SORGENFRESSER about their worries or wishes. SORGENFRESSER are being used in school in the morning for the so called “morning circle” where kids can tell the SORGENFRESSER openly what bothers them about school, their schoolmates or their teachers. Teachers tell us that children who before never said a word now do take part of this common procedure.
It is also known that adults are buying SORGENFRESSER to apologize to their partner for something. Also older children take their favourite SORGENFRESSER to school trips, holding it tightly when they feel homesick. Taking teddies to a school trip would definitely be a “no go”. But SORGENFRESSER are being received as cool pals.
The striped chaotic worry eaters offer a wide projective identification. And that is the secret success factor of them. They can be your best mate in good and bad times.
What’s in the pipeline for Sorgenfresser?
The surprise how quickly the concept of zipping away your worries spilled over from Germany to our neighbouring countries is still very real. Last year SORGENFRESSER won the INDEPENDENT Toy Award and the LOVED BY PARENTS AWARD in UK, the ”Etoil du Jouet” in France as well as the LIMA award in Germany. SORGENFRESSER are plan to move into play rooms all over Europe and after that in the rest of the world. Children’s worries may differ from country to country. But what is common to any child in the world is the need for comfort. That is what the SORGENFRESSER are made for.