10 Adorable Facts About Cabbage Patch Kids

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Although there have been other toy crazes throughout the 20th century, none have inspired the frenzy that met the 1983 debut of the Cabbage Patch Kids. Mass-produced yet all slightly unique—each was computer-sorted to have a distinctive combination of hair, freckles, and expressions—the dolls were in such high demand that shoppers risked bodily injury to try and grab one: In 1983, a Wall Street Journal editorial asserted that more Americans were worried about obtaining a Kid than the possibility of nuclear annihilation at the height of the Cold War. Check out 10 facts behind this dimpled phenomenon.

1. THEY WERE ORIGINALLY CALLED “LITTLE PEOPLE.”

When Appalachian artist Xavier Roberts began handcrafting a line of soft-sculpture babies in Georgia in 1977, he referred to them as Little People and created an elaborate marketing plan around their distribution. Gift shops and other retailers would never “sell” the creations—instead, they were to be “adopted.” Roberts also corrected anyone who referred to them as “dolls,” preferring to call them “babies” or “kids.” The fantasy worked, and Roberts sold well over 200,000 of his Little People before signing a deal to mass-produce them in partnership with toymaker Coleco in 1982. Under the direction of advertising agent Roger Schlaifer, they were rebranded as Cabbage Patch Kids after the stock explanation parents sometimes use to describe reproduction—that kids come from “the cabbage patch.”

2. PEOPLE GOT TRAMPLED TRYING TO BUY THEM.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact appeal of the Cabbage Patch Kids, which were perceived by some as homely. Some psychologists interviewed at the time believed that the adoption fantasy appealed to children who were looking to be caregivers themselves, while others pointed to the idea that parents could “prove” their worth by securing a Kid for their offspring. Whatever the case, the 1983 holiday shopping season drove consumers into a frenzy. Stores receiving small quantities of the Kids saw shoppers stampede into stores, suffering broken bones, being trampled, and even attempting to bribe employees into reserving them before they hit the sales floor. One manager resorted to wielding a baseball bat as a form of crowd control.

3. XAVIER ROBERTS MADE ONE KID CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD.

As president of Original Appalachian Artworks (OAA), the company incorporated to produce the dolls in 1978, the colorful Roberts enjoyed perpetuating the fantasy of the Kids as actual personalities. One of his earlier creations, Otis Lee, was named Chairman of the Board and frequently traveled with Roberts, rarely leaving his side.

4. ONE DESPERATE PARENT FLEW TO LONDON TO GRAB A KID.

A vintage photo of a child receiving a Cabbage Patch Kid
Dennis Harper, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Frustrated with the lack of supply in North America, a Kansas City mailman named Ed Pennington flew to London during the 1983 season in order to pick up a Kid for his daughter, Leana. (In England, demand wasn’t quite as strong and few had to risk bodily injury to secure one.) Pennington bought five of the Kids and gave four of them away to charity.

5. COLECO HAD TO PULL ITS ADVERTISING.

With demand for the Kids prompting violence, Coleco was chastised by consumer advocates for a form of “false advertising,” running television commercials that attracted consumers when they knew they would be unable to produce enough supply. James Picken, the consumer affairs commissioner in Nassau County, New York, complained the ads amounted to “harassing small children.” The company soon backed off on their ad campaign, pulling TV spots. It was hardly a problem, though: The furor over the Kids brought them headlines—and free advertising—virtually around the clock.

6. ADOPTION GROUPS WEREN’T BIG FANS.

A child examines two Cabbage Patch Kid toys
alamosbasement, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The marketing for the Kids, which involved an “oath” to treat them with care along with a birth certificate and adoption papers, spoke to adolescent consumers but didn’t find support in the actual adoption community. Feeling the toy trivialized actual adoptive parents and their kids, adoption groups spoke out against the idea, fearing it would prompt children to believe people could be “bought.”

7. THERE WAS AN EASY WAY TO SMELL A FAKE.

With any consumer product sensation comes a parade of counterfeit merchandise, and the Kids were no exception. Consumer advocate groups pointed out that bogus Cabbage Patch items possessed an oily smell due to the industrial rags they had been stuffed with. Thought to be highly flammable, consumers were told to avoid Kids that reeked of kerosene.  

8. THEY SUED THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS.

A Cabbage Patch Kid sits on top of a dumpster
Al Pavangkanan, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Roberts and OAA didn’t find a lot to laugh about when Topps released their line of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards in 1985. Featuring the same rounded heads and cute expressions as the Cabbage Patch Kids, OAA charged that the booger-infested cards were infringing on their copyright. After a court battle, Topps agreed to alter the design of their cards.

9. ONE MODEL HAD TO BE RECALLED FOR EATING THEIR OWNERS' HAIR.

Cabbage Patch mania was on full display through 1984, when Coleco sold 20 million of the toys before demand finally began to wane. In an effort to bolster sales later in the decade, new Cabbage Patch licensee Mattel released Snack Time Kids, which were intended to gobble up fake French fries. Instead, the mechanism could bite down on their owner’s long hair and automatically begin chewing. After complaints—and one 911 call for a child in Connecticut unable to free herself from the Kid’s maw—Mattel offered refunds and withdrew the toy from stores.

10. THEY INSPIRED A MORBID URBAN LEGEND.

A set of Cabbage Patch Kids wearing hats
lisaclarke, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Cabbage Patch Kids that had suffered indignities like dog maulings, sibling amputations, or other misadventures could potentially be repaired by doll hospitals. But one morbid rumor sprang up in newspapers: if your Kid was beyond repair, Coleco would issue the toy a death certificate.  

Letters From James Bond Creator Ian Fleming Detailing His Infidelity Hit the Auction Block

Sony
Sony

If the adage “write what you know” truly applies, then James Bond author Ian Fleming took it to heart. Like 007, his famously womanizing character who later went on to star in a hugely successful movie franchise, Fleming was apparently prone to finding himself in choppy relationship waters, according to a collection of private letters coming up for auction.

Sotheby’s is offering a collection of 160 pieces of correspondence belonging to Fleming, including a series of exchanges between the writer and his wife, Ann, that detail his infidelity.

“You mention ‘bad old bachelor days’—the only person you stopped sleeping with when they ceased was me!” Ann wrote, apparently referencing Fleming’s indiscretions. Other letters seem to hint at a more stable, if lurid, coupling, with Fleming affectionately referring to her as “darling baby” and opening his messages by addressing her as “Dear Monkey” or “Darling Pig.”

Before they married, Ann expressed hope Fleming would arrive to take her away from her then-husband, Esmond, Viscount Rothermere, and “put me in your bed with a raw cowhide whip in my hand so as I can keep you well behaved for 40 years.” Clearly, that plan didn't succeed.

Fleming and Ann were married in 1952 and remained together until his death in 1964. The letters were often exchanged while the writer was on retreat at Goldeneye, Jamaica, where he wrote many of his Bond novels. The letters also frequently reference his work and some of Bond’s origins. In one, he explains work is going so well he’s completing a chapter a day. Describing a boat given to him by a friend, he wrote that “I have christened [it] Octopussy.”

The salacious letters will be auctioned from December 3 to 10 and are expected to fetch between about $260,000 and $400,000.

[h/t The Telegraph]

The Office-Themed Ugly Christmas Sweaters Are Here to Show Off Your Dunder Mifflin Spirit

Target
Target

It's now easier than ever to gift your loved ones with Dunder Mifflin-inspired Christmas presents, thanks to Target's new The Office collection. What does it include, you ask? Ugly Christmas sweaters with Dwight Schrute's face and the paper company's logo on them.

As reported by POPSUGAR, Target is selling two different holiday sweaters—one featuring Dwight's festive face and another, more general Dunder Mifflin one—on its website, each priced at $29.99. It seems the NBC series' popularity will never die, as companies continue to sell The Office-related products, from cool artwork to construction sets.

While fans continue to binge The Office on Netflix, they know that major changes are ahead. NBCUniversal is launching its own streaming platform, Peacock, and will take the show back in January 2021. In the meantime, you can still soak up as much Dunder Mifflin insanity as you can handle via Netflix—and now you can do it decked out in a festive holiday sweater.

[h/t POPSUGAR]

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