The Perfect Pet? Zhu Zhu Hamsters a Hit

Zhu Zhu, this year's hottest toy.
Zhu Zhu, this year's hottest toy.
They were all Olivia Mondesando wanted for her birthday.

"Well, I felt really excited to get Zhu Zhu petsbecause I just love them," Olivia said. "Because of their little cute faces. How they talk."

Zhu Zhu
Toys R Us

They have names like "Chunk," "Pipsqueek," and "Num Nums." CBS News business correspondent Anthony Mason reports these robotic rodents suddenly top every little girl's holiday wish list.

Olivia's mother Deb said, "it's the toy that everyone wants that you can't find."

Melissa Post has been on a hamster hunt for weeks now for her daughter Jessica.

"I called every Toys R Us,Walmartand Target within two hours of my home."

Zhu Zhu pets retail for only $8 -- if you can find one. But on the Internet, they're going for much more.

The hottest holiday toy doesn't come from one of the mega toy makers. It's made by the little St. Louis-based Cepiacompany.

Cepia's Web site

"In our world wide network we have 16 people here in St. Louis, Mo.," said Natalie Hornsby, director of brand development and marketing strategies. "We have about 25 people in Shenzhen, China."

Cepia came up with the toy hamster idea only a year ago. Toys R Us helped test market them in Phoenix.

"We couldn't believe the numbers," said Jerry Storch, CEO of Toys R Us. "When we first looked at them we thought there was something wrong with the computer."

Now fans are filling YouTube with their Zhu Zhu videos. One analyst projects holiday sales of $50,000,000. Cepia has cranked up three more factories in China to try to keep up with demand.

Electronic hamsters. Who knew? This little company in St. Louis, that's who.

  • Anthony Mason
    Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"