In 1978 Xavier Roberts from Cleavland, Georgia opened "Babyland General Hospital" offering soft sculptured dolls that he created and called "Little People". These dolls were each said to be unique and rather than being purchased were "adopted" for an adoption fee and came with birth certificates.
In 1982, Mr. Roberts entered into a licensing agreement with the Coleco company to manufacture and widely distribute these dolls as toys. They became known as "Cabbage Patch Kids". These dolls were slightly smaller than the original "Little People" dolls and rather than being entirely made of fabric, they had a vinyl head and a cloth body. Each one was also declared to be unique and came with their own birth certificate and adoption papers.
These dolls took the world by storm! In 1983 supply was unable to meet consumer demand and the limited amount of dolls became highly sought after by collectors and parents hoping to give their children a Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas.
After a year or so as the dolls became readily available the mania died down. The dolls were produced in many forms over the years from "Premies" to "Cornsilk Kids" (with nylon rather than yarn hair), to "Snack Time Kids" made in the mid-1990's that were re-called from the market because the had a tendency to not only eat their snacks, but occassionaly their owner's long hair!
Cabbage Patch Kids were subsequently produced by Hasbro and are currently manufactured by Mattel. The newer dolls are entirely made of vinyl. Also, Babyland General Hospital is still in business and you can "adopt" one of the original style soft scuptured dolls there. To see their site, click here.
Above are photos of the first Cabbage Patch doll I owned which was purchased in 1984. The name on her birth certificate was "Edie Erna". When you sent in the adoption papers, you could change the doll's name. I changed my doll's name to "Erica Eden" (keeping the "EE" initials). I also recall receiving a birthday card from Coleco on the official birthday listed on her birth certificate.
All the dolls had Xavier Robert's signature printed on the left "cheek" of their tush. The color of the signature changed based on the year the doll was manufactured. This doll has the green signature of the 1984 production year. There were also several styles of head molds used for the dolls. This doll has the "Number 4" head mold. The head is also marked as follows:
Original Appalachian ArtWorks, Inc.
Manufactured by Coleco Ind., Inc.
The head mold, hair colors, hairstyles, eye color and clothing were alternated on each doll in order to make them unique.
The dolls also had a side tag attached to their body and within the text was a letter which indicated the factory where the doll was made. My doll pictured above has a "P" on her side tag. For more information on the factories and signatures, click the link below to visit a website containing more detail.
Factory and Signature Info.
Here is a recent picture of "Erica Eden" wearing a dress I made for her. I finally took her out of her out of storage after many years and she now happily lives on my bed sitting by my pillow.
Click on the links below to view more of the Cabbage Patch Kids in my collection:
I remember the Cabbage Patch mania of the 1980's very well. My first encounter with a Cabbage Patch kid was in a Zayre department store in 1983. It must have been shortly after they were released as there were many sitting on the shelf and there seemed to be no one in a rush to buy them. I thought they looked a little strange. Certainly not like any dolls I've seen before. I pointed them out to my Mom who happened to be shopping with me at the time. She exclaimed, "Boy those dolls are ugly!"
Shortly thereafter the hysteria took hold and everyone was looking for a Cabbage Patch Kid. That following year in the summer of 1984 I was with my Mom at my cousin Adam's kindergarten graduation. As we were walking out we saw a little girl carrying a Cabbage Patch Kid. My Mom whispered to me, "Don't you just want to take that doll from her?" Guess she didn't think they were ugly anymore!
A week or so later I was checking out the Zayre's sales flyer on a Saturday night. They advertised Cabbage Patch Kids on sale starting the next day. Well I was bound and determined to get one for my own. Although I was 18 years old at the time, age was not a factor in this doll craze. The store didn't open until noon, but I was out on the curb in front of Zayre at 7:00 the next morning. Believe it or not, there were already several other people ahead of me in line. By the time the doors were ready to open, there was a line half way around the parking lot. My aunt and cousins as well as my Mom showed up later and got in line.
Well, as we were let in the door, they simply began handing out dolls to people as they walked in. You had no opportunity to pick the one you wanted. When it was my turn I ended up with a boy in a little red jumpsuit. My Mom was standing next to me and screamed, "It's a boy!", like this was a "real" baby. I looked at her like she was nuts!
Needless to say I was very disappointed because I had my heart set on a girl. Then I noticed amongst the pandamonium, there was some swapping going on. I think I traded my doll two times before I ended up with the girl I wanted.
It also turned out that I really did not have to wait in line that early after all. My aunt, my cousins, and even my mother ended up with a doll eventhough they were way back in line. Seems they had enough dolls for everyone.
Well, no matter. I had the doll I wanted. I purchased some additional outfits for her including some clothing I bought from the infant department. I even took pictures of her and brought them in to show people where I was working at my summer job. Looking back now, they must have thought I was crazy!!!
That fall when I went to college, I took my Cabbage Patch Doll with me. I also had a "Premie" girl that I managed to buy from the JC Penney Christmas catalog. I hid them under my bed when I wasn't in the room for fear someone would steal them. Ummm....yeah right, I'm sure they would have!
After the Christmas of 1984, the Cabbage Patch craze had definitely died down. I went into Zayre in early 1985 and was easily able to purchase a blond girl right off the shelf.
I still have all my Cabbage Patch dolls today. But even more valuable then these dolls are my own two very special little girls. Here is a picture of my original Cabbage Patch girl and Premie girl that I brought with me to college.
And here is a picture taken in 1997 of my two girls that reminds me of these two dolls. I guess sometimes history repeats itself in the strangest of ways.
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