Dolls from Hell? Or Cabbage Patches?
Cabbage Patch Kids: I hated em. The vacuous round-faced dolls were a phenomenon in the late 70s and early 80s. Millions of little girls (and adults) clamored for the ugly, soft fabric figures. Parents flocked to department stores, stood in line for hours, and even got into physical altercations to “adopt” the product for their little darlings. A clever marketing strategy of the original designer, Xavier Roberts, was that the dolls were not available for purchase, rather they could be acquired for an “adoption fee”.
Originally sold by Roberts as “The Little People” at arts and crafts shows, the Kids have a back story of being discovered by a little boy (Xavier) who follows a BunnyBee (yes, a bee with bunny ears as wings) behind a waterfall and finds a field of cabbages that births babies who have been pollinated by the BunnyBee’ magic crystals. There is even a benevolent stork, Colonel Casey, who oversees the babies at Babyland General Hospital (a former medical store in Cleveland, GA, that Roberts converted into a toy store).
Granted, there’s a commendable amount of imagination and cleverness behind the CPK phenomenon, which is still thriving on multiple levels. The company has taken advantage of social trends with the addition of Adoptimals; a line of rescue felines and canines. And, of course, there is a plethora of DVD’s, toilet accessories, beds, bottles, clothing, and slippers and shoes to complement each adoptee.
Prospective “parents” can choose gender, eye color, skin tone, hair color and size in two different price points (shall I say “fees?”); starting at $59.99 in the Exclusive Cabbage Patch Kids collection or going more upscale with the Hand-Stitched Cabbage Patch Kid with fees in the $200 to $300-plus range.
While it seems to me that Cabbage Patch Kids were a primary instigator of fad-fueled buying crazes back in the Day, wherein parents and caregivers sacrificed all semblance of dignity and self-restraint in order to gratify their little darlings marketing-generated lust for the latest in contemporary toys and playthings, it’s almost with a sense of nostalgia that I realize, thanks to Amazon and the likes, those days of standing in line for hours and physically abusing competing shoppers are remnants of the past: Black Fridays aside, that is.
I’d love to believe the charm of a Cabbage Kid lies in its abject homeliness and a child’s altruistic desire to rescue the less fortunate and share some love, shelter and comfort. I hate to think the initial fad was fueled by competition and covetousness. After all, everyone knows only ugly babies come from cabbages! –Christine McKellar
(This is a reprint of a 2018 post)