The Cabbage Patch Kids fad was one of the biggest toy crazes ever to sweep the U.S. These adorable dolls were irresistible to children when they first hit the market and remain a classic American toy to this day.
Created in 1978 by art student Xavier Roberts, the dolls were originally called "Little People." Roberts then converted an old clinic in Cleveland, Georgia into "Babyland General Hospital" which he used as the headquarters of his doll manufacturing. In the beginning, all dolls were made by hand, displayed in a hospital like setting, and referred to as "babies" who were up for adoption. Overnight, these dolls became a huge success and a must-have toy for children across the U.S.
In 1982, Coleco bought the rights to mass market the dolls, and changed the name to Cabbage Patch Kids. With this new name, Coleco also gave the Cabbage Patch Kids a new origin story, making Xavier into a child who discovered a magical cabbage patch full of children with the help of a magical flying "Bunnybee." These dolls were thus named because they were "kids and babies of all sizes and shapes that are born in the secret cabbage patch."
Throughout the country, these dolls were in constant demand and sales grew enormously. From selling roughly $60 million in their first year to more than $600 million in 1985 alone, Cabbage Patch Kids mania was unstoppable. Stores had to hold lotteries for their limited supplies and in some cases police were called in to stop riots that broke out between angry parents trying to secure a doll in time for Christmas.
After Caleco went bankrupt in 1988, Hasbro took over the production rights for the Cabbage Patch Kids. They extended the brand into various themed doll lines and dolls aimed for younger children. Never reaching the same success as the Caleco years, Hasbro sold the rights for these dolls to Mattel in 1995. Most recently, Toys "R" Us took over the Cabbage Patch line in 2001, only to lose them in 2003 to Play Along Kids, who manage the product today.
In 2008, Cabbage Patch Kids celebrated their 25th anniversary. Throughout the country events were held in honor of these iconic dolls, including a birthday celebration at the Toys "R" Us flagship store in Times Square. The whole town of Cleveland, GA also held a Fall Leaf Festival in honor of Babyland General Hospital, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Today, Cabbage Patch Kids remain a beloved children's toy and collectors item.
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Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.