CBC Digital Archives

Cabbage Patch Kid mania

Toys, leftover fruitcake, department store Santas, toy store mobs, last minute shoppers, enormous light displays and faith restored — it's all part of the rich tradition of Christmas. Over the years, CBC Radio and Television have documented the spiritual and material aspects of the ever-evolving Christmas holiday. 'Tis the joyous, and sometimes maddening, season of giving.

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It's a scene that is at once shocking and humourous. Adults line up outside a toy store for hours. Determined, they rush through the doors and stampede their way over to a display of Cabbage Patch dolls. Adopting a highway trucker's credo, it's move or get out of the way in this toy store frenzy. This CBC Television report focuses on the Cabbage Patch Kid mania.

Cabbage Patch Kids are in such demand that parents are prepared to do almost anything to get their hands on one. The soft dolls with pinched plastic faces and yarn hair are packaged with birth certificates and adoption papers. Over a short period of time, they've become media darlings thanks to a successful and aggressive ad campaign.
• In 1976, Xavier Roberts began creating soft-sculpture dolls while attending school as an art student. Over the next two years, he branded the dolls "Little People" and packaged them with birth certificates. Roberts' creations were a hit on the arts and craft show circuit and in 1982 he joined forces with the toy company Coleco to mass-produce the re-branded Cabbage Patch Kids. By the end of 1983 approximately three million Cabbage Patch dolls were sold at approximately $40 per doll.

• The dolls were packaged with adoption papers, a birth certificate and instructions on how to care for the "newborn." Each doll was said to be a one-of-a-kind original with a combination of unique facial features (dimples, eye color, smile), hair colour and name.
The dolls were mass-produced until 1989. By 1990, a total of 65 million dolls had been sold.

• Different versions of the Cabbage Patch Kids have met with lesser success. The Snacktime Kid, which opened and closed its mouth as though eating, debuted in 1995. It made headlines after complaints that the doll snagged, pulled and chewed children's long hair.

• In 2002, the original Cabbage Patch Kids doll was relaunched and retailed for $265. Other models on the market in 2002 included "Cuddle 'N Care" baby and "Tender Love 'N Care" baby.

• Other Christmas toy crazes have included Rubik's Cube in 1981, Trivial Pursuit in 1984, Teddy Ruxpin in 1985, Pictionary in 1987, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1989, and Power Rangers in 1994.

Medium: Television
Program: This Week in Ontario
Broadcast Date: Nov. 25, 1983
Guest: Bonnie Jeffries
Host: Joe Coté
Reporter: John Lees, Bob Smith
Duration: 3:39
Produced by CBC affililate, CFPL-TV London, Ont.

Last updated: December 2, 2014

Page consulted on December 2, 2014

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