Traditionalist reviewing our BEST. GIFTS. EVER. advent calendar might have noticed a particular trend so far, namely, that we’ve focused on what might classically be referred to as “boys toys” – and while that distinction pretty much sucks on all counts, it is clear that we do have a dearth of a particular sort of awesome gift: soft, cozy, adorable, and in this case, legally adoptable.
Cabbage Patch Kids (1983)
Ok, so full confession: I’m not certain I ever had one of these. My older sister was obsessed with them, though, and I vaguely remember a bald baby boy that she required me to take control of during playtime – although that might just be me projecting myself into the murky past of the Reagan years.
Anyways, as I said, my sister was obsessed, as was much of America during this time. For those of you that don’t know, Cabbage Patch Kids were a line of vastly popular dolls, sold in boxes with clear windows so you can see them imprisoned inside. They came with names, birth-dates, and adoption certificates. The basic back-story of the line was that orphans were found in a secret garden by one Xavier Roberts (the person responsible for creating the original line of dolls). As a kid, I was fascinated by the idea that things could have back-stories; that they meant something more than what I was seeing immediately before me. Do you remember those little cards that you could cut out of the box of Transformers and GI Joes and other action figures; the one’s that told you something about the character you just got? Yeah, I ate those up. But even I couldn’t quite get past the idea of someone sharecropping children to sell to other children in toy-stores. Xavier Roberts, you crazy!
CPKs were the first big “viral toy of the year” and would come to stand for any pop-culture item that was seen as a must have by the media and American Christmas shoppers. In fact, despite coming out in the mid-80s, I don’t think we had another toy to use as an example of gift-scarcity until Furbies more than a decade later. For years, my sister would use Cabbage Patch Kids as a way to mentally process currency. She’d say, “Do you know how many Cabbage Patch Kids I could buy with that?” in response to any family purchase, no matter how trivial. In fact, most things cost several times less than what one of those dolls would set you back, especially considering the rarity at the time, and so getting one at all was a major win for a lucky kid on the holidays. That’s part of the reason why my mother keeps trying to pawn these very expensive toys to my sister’s nearly grown-ass kids.
And for some reason, people are still obsessed with them! There’s an episode of My Crazy Obsession that focuses on Cabbage Patch Kids getting their own play-dates with other people’s dolls! Here’s a clip:
And while that’s perhaps a little “silly” or deeply “disturbing” there is a trend of adorable Cabbage Patch Kid style wigs/hats for toddlers that might just make me ovulate! NOW THAT’S DISTURBING!
I do distinctly remember playing with one aspect of the Cabbage Patch Kids that I can recall for you all. Amongst the merchandise craze that came with their popularity, my sisters had the Colorforms Playhouse, which featured static cling characters and items you’d normally find in a doll house with which you could play make-believe. I loved Colorforms, so that thing got a lot of use from me. Even if the selection of weapons seemed lacking.
Oh, and one more thing! Without Cabbage Patch Kids, we might never have had the cultural milestone that is Garbage Pail Kids so for that I will be forever grateful.
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