Cabbage Patch Kids

Cabbage Patch Kids

1983 was a rather memorable year, one that saw the introduction of Swatches, the Chicken McNugget and Hooters. But for parents, it might be best remembered as the year when getting your child what they wanted most for Christmas meant enduring the inconvenience of long lines and a mob-like atmosphere. Yes, friends – this was the year of the Cabbage Patch Kid frenzy, perhaps one the craziest holiday seasons on record.

Cabbage Patch Kids started out as the creation of humble doll maker, Xavier Roberts, an art student trying to find a way to bring in some money to cover his tuition costs. He designed his “Little People” dolls, utilizing a combination of German fabric sculpturing and traditional quilting. After moderate success selling his wares at arts and crafts shows, he opened Babyland General, a factory to mass-produce his toys.

But it would be an appearance on the popular reality show, Real People, in 1980 that would cause the dolls popularity to truly gain momentum. Even with the help of veteran toy maker, Coleco, who partnered with Roberts in 1982 to boost production, it quickly became clear that demands were far outweighing the supply. These were must have items for children and collectors alike. What made the dolls different from the competition, besides their design, was that they came with a birth certificate, which gave their name (each doll unique) and birth date, as well as adoption papers. Once parents filled out the adoption papers and mailed them back to the company, the doll would receive a card in the mail celebrating its first birthday. The company also provided washing instructions and a reminder that, like all of us, a Cabbage Patch Kid benefits greatly from a daily hug.

Cabbage Patch Kids are still popular despite being discontinued in 1989 and they even inspired a 1996 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger called Jingle All the Way, which chronicled the trials and tribulations of a parent in search of the unobtainable toy. Their popularity even survived an unfortunate series of incidents in 1995, due to the insatiable appetite of their spin-off brethren, the Snacktime Kid. It seems that when these dolls were given the ability to chew, thanks to their mechanical jaws, nobody anticipated that they might acquire a taste for little Suzie’s locks of golden hair. As these incidents became more common, the Snacktime Kid was removed from store shelves.

Looking back, it all seems a tad unbelievable that people were willing to camp out for hours on end just to hopefully get their hands around one these dolls. But given the choice between long lines and potential riots or the prospect of seeing the sad face of a little moppet that has been neglected by Santa, the decision was a simple one – to the tune of over three-million of these ragamuffins being sold in the first couple of years alone. There are few things parents won’t do to bring a smile to faces of their children and in the early 80s, those smiles often came via a Cabbage Patch Kid.

Were you the lucky recipient of a Cabbage Patch Kid? Was it everything you hoped it would be? Better yet, do you still have it in your possession? Share those Cabbage Patch memories with all of us at Retroland in our comments section below, as we remember one of the biggest toy fads of all time, and one crazy Christmas.

8 Responses to “Cabbage Patch Kids”

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  1. the 80s cartoon girl says:

    cabbage patch kids are ace i wasent into garbage pail kids coz i didnt like em

  2. LP says:

    Ahh!! Brings me back to 1989…mine was named Ashley; I remember observing the row of Cabbage Patch dolls in the department store, and just knowing that they all had names- and implied backstories- made me wish that I could ‘adopt’ them all (thereby saving them from some imagined cruel orphan fate.)

  3. heather says:

    i live in canada but at the time of the fad, i went to the states for a weekend with my parents. one of the stores had 1 cpk left and it was a baldie with the yellow striped sleepers on. i wanted one with hair so i didnt buy that one. the next store had a whopping 2 cpks on the shelf. one was a beige fuzzy haired boy with the sweat pants outfit baring the number 32 on it and the other one, believe it or not, was another baldie with the same yellow striped sleeper! they were both identical! anyways, you’d think i bought the one with hair cause i wanted hair on mine. well no, i ended up picking the baldie. i really dont know why actually. i was only around 9 or 10 at the time. i have to admit, all i did was see everyone else carrying around their cpks fully equiped with blonde, red, brown or beige pony tails and thinking, i want one of those, not this bald one. yes that went on for years. i wasnt happy with the one i had at the time. well here i am now 30 years later and i still have that same cpk and actually, hes my favorite. hes my prized posession cause he was my first. i did get another one later in toronto with red braids but my baldie is still my baby. go figure! i own about 100 of them now. most of them in their original boxes, sitting in my basement. i go down there every once in a while to look at them. i love them. i hated dolls growing up till these came out. but i didnt really consider these dolls as such. i have an obsession with them and would go to the thrift stores and adopt every one that was abandoned there. the rest they say, is history.

  4. Kris says:

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for ninja turtle

  5. joe says:

    Still have one but mine is a cabbage patch koosas i got one xmas when they came out

  6. Sammy says:

    I so still have my Roslyn Keith..! She has blonde hair in two pigtails…..I hugged her too tight into a new school jumper and stained her face green, I cried for about 2 weeks and there is still a faint green tinge 30-odd years later.
    It’s a terrible story but I hounded my parents mercilessly for a CPK and eventually wore them down. The deal was I had to lose 1kg in weight. I did so by not eating for two days. Seriously dangerous message to send to an 8yo girl but fortunately didn’t result in an eating disorder.
    I just had the one….my sister had three but one was a fake. The fake is still her favourite as it was her first so I know what that other poster (heather) means!
    We also had a Koosa each, they were identical cat-things in peach coloured fabric, we called them Peaches and Cream…der. No idea what happened to them.
    Funnily enough, never being a big fan of dolls and definitely not a fan of children, I find it hard to resist the urge to pick Roslyn up and give her a hug sometimes.


  1. […] idea was a series of trading cards parodying (and persecuting) Xavier Roberts’s immensely popular Cabbage Patch Kids that would tie-in with Garbage Pail Candy, tart candies shaped like pieces of trash (fish heads, […]

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