Social media runs on conflict. Rarely is something ever trending on Twitter because it’s neutrally beloved by everyone. Instead, social media is a vast hellscape full of car crashes, truth bombs, and dumpster fires burning so high and bright you can see them from all across the internet. Amid the usual online detritus, occasionally something particularly noteworthy will stand out — like an accidental sex couch.
In mid-December, the non-parents of TikTok were introduced to Nugget Tok, a slice of the platform devoted to the cult following of The Nugget, a modular children’s couch that doubles as a status symbol among parents who are also obsessed with Pelotons and curated virtual schooling pods. The Nugget comes in a stylish array of millennial-minded colours (most of which are limited edition) and features an even more millennial-looking triangle cushion. It costs about $229 (£167) and there are likely more people adding The Nugget to their Pinterest boards, than there are actual Nugget owners, since the couch is chronically sold out. The resale value of The Nugget spikes as high as $1,000 (£731), with certain retired colourways, like Stardust or Lagoon, being particularly prized.
Parents have had a tough year thanks to the combination of the pandemic, working from home, and virtual schooling, and it peaked with an especially stressful holiday season. Considering that they probably felt like they deserved a few moments of peace with their cushion-y, cosy couches, it was probably the worst possible time for The Nugget — and its rabid following — to have gone viral on TikTok.
But that’s exactly what happened when one Nugget group bystander responded to the viral online question: “What’s something that’s ‘not a cult’ but seems like a cult?” TikTok user @pushingastrollerinheals answered by describing Nugget mum groups and explaining that there are multiple Facebook groups, some with thousands of members, dedicated to The Nugget, which has led to a spike in resale prices for the couch. She revealed that some moms replace all their furniture with Nugget couches and even buy couches for children who aren’t old enough to play on them.
But, it was her reveal about what “the upper echelon” of the Nugget groups — AKA the Nugget After Dark groups — are doing that really caused a stir. “The thing is you photograph your husband sitting on top of the box when it gets delivered — the less clothes the better,” she said. “Literally, someone just posted their husband ass-naked on top of the box.” Nugget After Dark is a place where parents “just talk about banging all over their children’s furniture.” In short? “This sounds like satire, but it isn’t.”
Soon after that video was posted, Nugget Tok took over everyone’s For You Page and the platform welcomed the messiness with open arms. The already existing Nugget cocktail of online drama, community implosion, and unhinged consumerism turned absolutely caustic when it was revealed that people were having sex on these couches. Millions of views later, the Nugget After Dark Facebook mums began to doxx the women on TikTok who had merely said Nugget After Dark exists. Nobody on TikTok had shared screenshots or named names, they simply talked about the existence of the NAD groups — but that didn’t stop the moms from cyber-harassing them.
If you’re still confused as to why people end up having sex on their Nuggets, though, allow me to introduce you to the world of sex furniture. The Nugget’s signature triangle cushion looks a lot like a sex wedge, and it doesn’t take much to position the cushions in ways that mirror the chicest sex couches. As @TheBigWeirdMom, who is one of the creators who introduced TikTok to the Nugget following and was subsequently targeted by moms, said: “If you look it up, it looks a lot like the Liberator furniture.”
But how does Nugget, the company, feel? Refinery29 reached out and asked if the company was aware of Nugget After Dark; a spokesperson replied that it would rather not comment on the matter. However, they did confirm that, following the virality of Nugget Tok, there was an influx of traffic to their site, though it’s hard to tell whether or not it resulted in increased sales.
That said, @TheBigWeirdMom personally seems to have introduced about 12 million TikTok viewers to the lovely world of Nugget couch mom groups through a series she calls “Mom Group Dumpster Fires,” but also made clear that she respects different groups’ privacy rules: “I get that the Nugget After Dark, that was a group that had a screenshot rule and was not a place that should be shared. And if that’s what you want to do with your time I get it.” So she didn’t post screenshots, nor did she include anyone’s name or likeness; all she did was mention the group’s mere existence. Still, the dumpster fire blazed on.
It’s all the more strange, though, because Nugget After Dark isn’t exactly the best-kept secret of the parenting world. If you look up Nugget couch groups on Facebook you’ll find “NAD” groups almost instantly — one even has a banner photo of a naked husband posed coyly on The Nugget for easy identification. These groups contain thousands of members.
But, the urgency to keep NAD groups under wraps isn’t totally unfounded. While talking about the sense of community people find in Facebook mom groups, @TheBigWeirdMom heard that people who learned about Nugget After Dark on TikTok were descending on the Facebook groups in droves. “People came in and they heard ‘sex on a child’s toy’ and they took it to the other end of the spectrum,” she says, “and all of a sudden they wanted to join this NAD group to shame them.” Finally, she tells Refinery29, the groups “were just inundated with new requests to join, and they had to shut down.”
For @TheBigWeirdMom, who considers some of the people she’s met through Facebook parenting groups among her closest friends, this is unfortunate, especially since it can be difficult to be a parent and also prioritise your own needs as well as those of your children. She says that NAD groups actually have “a lot to do with empowerment” and explains, “I wouldn’t call it this freaky fetish thing. There was definitely talk about how to make your sex life better using your Nugget Couch.”
For thousands of mums, then, Facebook groups like Nugget After Dark are safe places to find community and breathe easily knowing everyone around you is under the same pressure to do right by your children — including by buying them the trendiest new piece of play furniture. But, people shouldn’t have to sacrifice their own identities when they become parents. So what if that means having sex on The Nugget?
As @TheBigWeirdMom says, some people have separate Nuggets just for that. In any case, it’s just furniture, and if you paid so much money for it, it only makes sense to give it multiple uses. Shaming parents — especially moms — for this behaviour is what’s really damaging. “Usually, society looks to a mum to assign any type of blame or praise,” says @TheBigWeirdMom. While the moms that descended on TikTok to harass anyone that spoke about NAD might’ve taken things too far, there’s also responding to an excruciating amount of societal pressure. She says she worries about the safe space of Nugget After Dark being, “compromised,” but also admits: “When you invite 12 million TikTok viewers in, that [safe space] goes away.”