Taking a Walk Down Memory Lane to the Cabbage Patch Kids Craze Of The 1980s

Taking a Walk Down Memory Lane to the Cabbage Patch Kids Craze Of The 1980s

Toys have always been synonymous with children, and it is almost impossible to find an adult who did not play make-believe games with a toy while growing up. Unlike today when you can find stores full to the brim with all kinds of toys, the 1980s were a different time.

Let’s forget about today’s news, politics, and issues for a moment and go back in time to the 80’s craze for the Cabbage Patch Kids. Cabbage Patch Kids are a line of soft sculptured dolls sold by Xavier Roberts under the name Coleco.

The hand-stitched, one-of-a-kind, soft fabric dolls were made using the historic technique of “needle molding” based upon a design initially created by Martha Nelson Thomas. What set the Cabbage Patch Kids apart at the time was their marketing strategy.

Originally called “The Little People,” the Cabbage Patch Kids were not put up for sale; instead, they were each “adopted” with their own individual names and birth certificate. So, rather than paying a product price, parents who purchased the Cabbage Patch Kids would be required to pay an adoption fee. [1]

The Cabbage Patch Kids craze

This was the discovery legend Roberts came up with for his Little People, and it was later reproduced on every Cabbage Patch Kids product from 1983 onward:

Xavier Roberts was a ten-year-old boy who discovered the Cabbage Patch Kids by following a BunnyBee behind a waterfall into a magical Cabbage Patch, where he found the Cabbage Patch babies being born. To help them find good homes, he built BabyLand General in Cleveland, Georgia, where the Cabbage Patch Kids could live and play until they were adopted. BunnyBees are bee-like creatures with rabbit ears they use as wings. They pollinate cabbages with their magic crystals to make Cabbage Patch babies. Colonel Casey is a large stork who oversees Babyland General Hospital. He’s the narrator of the Cabbage Patch Kids’ story. Otis Lee is the leader of the gang of Cabbage Patch Kids that befriended Xavier. [2]

This marketing strategy worked, and the Cabbage Patch Kids doll brand became one of the most popular toy fads of the 1980s. They were a must-have toy for Christmas, and parents across the country flocked to stores to try to obtain one of the dolls for their children.

They became an instant hit among boys and girls alike, and children would often feel left out if they didn’t have a Cabbage Patch Kids doll like their friends. Very soon, children’s playgroups divided into various categories: those who had many Cabbage Patch Kids to play with, those who only had a few, and those who had none at all.

The Cabbage Patch Kids were so high in demand that fights would occasionally erupt between parents over the hard-to-find dolls. As each toy came with a name, birth certificate, and signature on their squishy butts, children across the country started having their favorite characters which they would play with. [3]

Over the years, the Cabbage Patch Kids patents have been acquired by Hasbro (1988–1994), Mattel (1994–2003), Toys “R” Us (2003), and more. However, since 2015, the Cabbage Patch Kids company has been owned by Wicked Cool Toys. Today, it is regarded as one of the longest-running doll franchises in the United States.

Other memorable toys from the 80’s

The 1980s were a great time for toys in the United States, with a new variation being released almost every week. Some popular toys include: [4]

Transformers: The transformers toy franchise was quite significant in the 80s. The transforming robots were an instant hit amongst boy, and if you grew up in the 80s, then you probably remember the commercials.

Speak & Spell: These were the height of 1980’s technology. Toys with a robotic voice and plastic keyboards were a novelty in the 80s. Kids of the time instantly fell in love with the futuristic gadgets that were designed to help children master spelling.

Smurfs: These cute blue-skinned toys were quite popular in the 1980s, and children would spend hours in the toy store trying to decide which character to choose. Many kids would spend hours creating fantasy and elaborate theatrical scenes with their Smurfs.

References:

  1. “Our History.Cabbage Patch Kids.
  2. The Legend.Cabbage Patch Kids.
  3. “Remembering the Cabbage Patch craze.” Houston Chronicles. Claudia Feldman. November 27, 2017.
  4. “Children’s toys you’ll remember if you were born in the 80s.” Liverpool Echo. Yolanthe Fawehinmi. December 8, 2018.
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