With Valentine's Day coming up, the quest for the chonky seal pillow begins. These things have been floating around for a while everywhere on Instagram and across other social platforms. One of the ways couples and people in general have bonded has been over a love for cute and chonky characters (the squishier, the better). So what better way to celebrate Valentine's Day whether you're single or with someone, than to have a chonky seal pillow. What I didn't know was that this seal was slightly more complicated to get than what I had expected.

I started by doing a quick search on Google for chonky seal pillows. One of the first articles that popped up was a VICE article. The article shedded light on the hype behind the pillows, and where to buy an "authentic" chonky seal pillow. Before reading the article, I didn't even know that a non-authentic pillow existed. After finishing up the article (which I'll refer back to later), I went over to the website where VICE said the original pillow could be bought: Felissimo.

After comparing the price of the pillow on Felissimo (approximately $65 USD at the time of this post) with AliExpress and the Polish version of eBay (Allegro), I noticed that the pillows on the latter sites were cheaper ranging from $13 USD to $25 USD. While I didn't mind paying the difference in price, I then checked an important factor for me - delivery time. All websites estimated a 3 to 4 week delivery time to the United States. Having little faith in logistics after a horrible experience with XPO Logistics and IKEA, I decided to research things further. The "fake" pillows looked a bit angrier, but were available in all sorts of the different sizes, and were equally cute and cuddle-worthy to the original.

Eventually, I realized that there was an entire Reddit group dedicated to chonky seal pillows. I read about horrendous experiences from both the legit website and third party vendors. I ended up going through the checkout flow to see how the Felissimo site would hold up, and boy did I get a nice surprise at the end - a nearly $80 USD delivery fee from Japan to the US on top of the price of the item. On top of that, reviews about Felissimo's delivery times were not fantastic with many consumers claiming that they had to contact the company about their orders (pre-pandemic - I don't even want to imagine what things are like now with their bulletined COVID-19 delays) and still waited over a month. No thanks.

The final straw for my personal preferences was that I figured that maybe this product on Felissimo was made in Japan which would have created more value for me (like some kind of boutique item versus one that was mass-manufactured), but instead, it was also made in China. Something tells me that VICE was just promoting a product where the manufacturer made a bunc of "real" chonky seal pillows and "fake" chonky seal pillows. The hype would have (hopefully and hypothetically) driven consumers towards the "real" pillows even though everything was made from the same place - China. I'll save my thoughts on intellectual property rights for another day.

To summarize an even longer post, I realized that spending over $100 USD for a plushie was absurd so I went on AliExpress to search for the chonky seal pillow. When I finally found one with decent reviews and thousands of orders, I went ahead to purchase it. I guess that since I hadn't used AliExpress in such a long time, it blocked my payment and proceeded to ask me to take a picture of my credit card (WTF?!), a credit card statement, and provide my ID for "security" purposes. Hmm...

At this point, this is where I stand - I think I'll send in my deets to AliExpress with certain details blocked and see if my payment's approved. If it is then great, I'll buy the pillow there. Otherwise, I'm going to just purchase off of an Allegro vendor and have it delivered directly to Poland (where we also live) instead of the U.S.

The moral of the story is to order this item early, and already have a functional AliExpress account ready before going on the quest for one's chonky seal pillow. The whole "fake" versus "real" product seems to me to be something that's all in the eye of the becuddler.