Chou Chou Explained

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After a long day of adulting, all you can think about is being reunited with your bed - and your precious Chou Chou. It has accompanied you for years and you never stopped to wonder why - till you come across an article titled “50% of Singaporean teenagers still sleep with a Chou Chou”.


The bond between owner and Chou Chou is so strong that not even sensationalised news can break it. In 2018, a Facebook post about a mushroom-infested Bantal Busuk went viral. Despite the health and safety warnings, it was dismissed as an anomaly and Chou Chous still remained as almost everyone’s BFF.


But what makes Chou Chous so special to so many people? Wiki.sg uncovers the science behind your addiction to this smelly, loveable pillow.


Theory #1: Your brain thinks that your Chou Chou is your childhood.


The Chou Chou is not your average pillow. Its superpower lies in its smell that’s unique to every owner - a smell that has the ability to trigger nostalgic memories and emotions. This is called the Proust Phenomenon.


To understand why this happens, let’s look at the blueprint of your brain. The Amygdala and Hippocampus - which control emotions and memories, are located near the Olfactory bulb, the part of your brain that detects smells.


Basically, your entire childhood is condensed into the smell of your Chou Chou. It’s scientifically proven that odour-cued memories are from the first decade of your life.


This is why we just can’t throw our Chou Chous away. They remind us of a simpler time where you didn’t have to worry about taxes, relationship problems or wondering if have enough for your BTO.


That brings us to Theory #2: Your Chou Chou helped with your development as an infant.


Chou Chous are essential to our development from a child to adult. Let's backtrack to when you were fresh out of the womb.


The world is a wild and scary place for a newborn. In fact, for the first 6 months, infants don’t actually know clearly who are humans. They rely on transitional objects to ease them into independence. This period of literal self-discovery is called the ‘Developmental Phase’.


Enter the Chou Chous and Bantal Busuks. Babies love them because they have characteristics that remind children of their own mothers - soft, warm and gentle.


In Singapore, traditional Chou Chous are filled with dried bean sprout husks for added comfort. Unlike cotton or feathers, dried bean sprout husks give that added flexibility to the Chou Chou - allowing it to mould itself to the shape of the baby.


To the baby, the pressure feels like their mother’s hand, which grants them a sense of security.


Basically, Chou Chous serve as a mom substitute for infants who are learning to be the independent boss-baby who don’t need no mom. But let’s be real, even the toughest adults still miss their mothers and Chou Chous will always be the perfect side-bae.


With all this psychological backing, it’s justified to say that the bond we have with our Chou Chou is a healthy attachment that stems from our natural human instincts.


In fact, owning a smelly childhood object is actually a thing across the globe. The ang moh equivalent of a Chou Chou is called “blankie” which is a security blanket for babies.


So there’s really no shame in being a proud Chou Chou owner. It is a part of who you are and you should OWN IT.