Anyone remember the fad for cabbages?
If you’re in your 30s, you probably remember the Cabbage Patch doll craze in the 1980s. People waited in line for hours just for the privilege of buying one of these dolls. Stores couldn’t keep them on the shelves. Some people think it was the biggest marketing stunt of the 1980s.
The dolls were originally designed by a man named Xavier Roberts who lived in Georgia. In 1982, Roberts sold the mass production rights to the Coleco Toy Company. As you may recall, each Cabbage Patch doll came with her own name and birthday, adoption papers, and birth certificate. Each doll was said to be unique (just a little bit different).
For the first few years, it seemed that Coleco couldn’t produce these dolls fast enough. Dolls were in such short supply at Christmas that some stores had to call the police just to control the crowds waiting in line to buy the dolls. Other stores decided to hold raffles to distribute the dolls fairly and avoid mob-like scenes. In 1985 Coleco reported record sales of $600 million thanks to Cabbage Patch dolls.
Obviously, like most fads, the Cabbage Patch fad didn’t last long. Sales fell from $600 million in 1985 to just $250 million in 1986. There were scalpers and speculators who were left with closets full of dolls that suddenly weren’t selling very well anymore. Coleco then tried many things to revive the doll market by making dolls “do things” like talk. However, things went downhill from there and Coleco had to file for bankruptcy in 1988.
The Hasbro Company obtained the rights to produce the doll in 1989. They gradually began making dolls for younger children, which led to smaller dolls. Even though Cabbage Patch dolls were one of the best selling dolls. Hasbro was never able to reinvigorate the Cabbage Patch market. In 1994 Mattel bought the rights to the doll.
Mattel currently still produces Cabbage patch dolls. However, the dolls no longer have cloth bodies, they are still all vinyl dolls. The dolls are usually around 14 inches or less, and most of them come with a trick like swimming, eating, or brushing their teeth. Most of the Cabbage Patch dolls made by Mattel are still available from some mass market retailers such as Toy’s R US. The sticker price is usually less than $20.