The internet has been buzzing over the fact that a guy made a toad some hats. Natasha Hoyland needed to know more. More than more, she needed to know why. So she tracked him down in Alabama and asked.
You may have seen some images circulating around the net lately. Specifically, some images of a toad wearing a variety of hats. Scratch that, you’ve definitely seen them as they’ve been everywhere from Buzzfeed, to boredpanda, to the Huffington post, so they’ve definitely been on your Facebook feed. If they have, there’s a high chance that they put a gigantic smile on your face.
If you haven’t come across the glorious Mr. Toad, boy are you missing out.
The internet was put into a frenzy when Redditor 1158pm uploaded some photos to Imgur of hats he had made and placed on a toad, along with a picture of a hat on his dog for scale. People went crazy over it, and the creator was flooded with requests for “MORE!”.
So many parts of this toad hat business intrigued me, but I wasn’t intrigued as much as my editor, who has been hassling me to get in touch with ‘toad hat man’ for weeks at numerous editorial meetings. To find out more, I went directly to the source, toad hat maker Chris Newsome of Alabama, and quickly found out why this toad hat phenomenon excited and pleased so many people.
Who are you? What do you do?
Chris Newsome: I’m 43 and am the Webmaster at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. I have a degree in art and design, so even though I’ve never made toad hats before I have always enjoyed making and creating things, from small gifts to large, to handcrafted video game arcade cabinets.
When did the toad hat making start?
The toad appeared on my porch and would stay every night during our summer months. A friend’s young son had a toad that died. To cheer him up, I sent them photos of my porch toad wearing a hat. He and other Facebook friends liked the photos, so I made a few more to get a laugh. That was last July, but I rediscovered the pics on my phone about a week ago. I posted the pics on Imgur and Reddit and expected a few dozen views, I never expected over 1 million views and several websites mentioning it.
I made a Twitter account to see if anyone was interested in seeing new pics. I have some ideas for new hats, but I’m waiting for the toad to reappear once the weather warms up.
This is truly an incredible story, I had no idea that the original intention was to cheer a little boy up. How did you make the hats, and what are they made of?
The hats are made from foam craft paper and glue. I had never made a hat before, so I just made it up as I cut the paper. My first hat was a top hat. I cut a circle for the brim and cut a hole out of the centre. I rolled a cylinder of foam paper and inserted it into the centre hole. I glued it in place then cut a small circle to create the top. I added a hat band, feather and monocle to finish it off.
I’ve even had a request from someone in England to make one for her cat!
Amazing! I can’t wait to see that. Was it hard to get the toad to stay still while placing the hats or did it just comply?
It was super easy to put the hat on the toad. It didn’t seem to mind one bit. I made a video of the hat placement.
Lots of people ask if the toad had a problem with the hats. I didn’t keep the hat on the toad very long, but it didn’t seem to be bothered by it. The toad kept coming back night after night, so he either liked the hats or simply didn’t care.
How do you feel about the fact that something so simple like this has amused so many people? People love it!
I am stunned that so many people have reacted to this. I am thrilled that so many people have gotten joy and a laugh from something so simple. Several long time friends have said “of all the creative things you’ve done over the years, THIS is the thing that gets you noticed?” Haha, I’m just happy that it makes people smile. I’ve had many comments online where people say things like: “this made my day”, “this is what the Internet is for”, and “you’ve restored my faith in humanity”
That makes me happy! I originally took the photos to make a little boy smile and unknowingly made many people all over the world smile – which in turn, gave me the biggest smile of all.
It’s such an incredibly heartwarming thing to see. Does the toad have a name?
I started calling him Mr Toad, but I’ve had several comments online saying that they think it could be a female. “Mr. Toad” could still give enough of a sense of mystery for a later name reveal. If the same toad returns, I may give it a first name.
Nah, it’s relaxing to make the hats and get my mind off of work. It also makes me happy that so many people get enjoyment from the hats and the pics. I’ve had several new requests, so I’ll be trying to make those soon. I like getting the requests – it shows interest and pushes me to continue making them.
UPDATE: Right before I published this interview, Mr. Toad made a triumphant return! And Chris got right back into the hat making.
So Mr. Toad has returned!
With Mr. Toad’s return, I asked Chris if he could set up an interview, but just my luck, Mr. Toad had already disappeared for the night.
I delayed posting this article for a day, in the hopes that Mr. Toad would come back and I could get my exclusive interview. He hasn’t yet, but I’ll keep on waiting forever.