By the time the dolls were first sold in 1983, they were already among the most popular toys of the decade — and quickly became a cultural phenomenon.
Known for their distinctive appearance — chubby faces with button noses and bright eyes — each Cabbage Patch Kid came with its own unique name, birth date and adoption papers.
Every Cabbage Patch doll was also made to look slightly different from any other, with variations in their facial features, hair and clothing, plus they were made from a soft, plush material — making them extra huggable and cuddly.
All of these unique attributes made Cabbage Patch Kids feel like one-of-a-kind toys that kids could truly call their own. Combine all of that baked-in appeal with an aggressive, child-targeting marketing campaign — the likes of which were rampant in the 80s, but illegal today — and you have a perfect storm of massive demand unforeseen by the manufacturer.
This is the setup for what came next…
The Black Friday riot legacy of Cabbage Patch dolls
By the time the holiday season rolled around in 1983, a Cabbage Patch doll was at the top of Christmas lists nationwide and had achieved gotta-have-it status in the minds of what seemed like every parent in the USA. Demand for them quickly outstripped supply, leading to a legendary shortage of the dolls.
As a result, the dolls became THE hot commodity of 1983, with parents and collectors willing to pay high prices to get their hands on one.
People lined up in mobs outside stores and waited hours to get their mitts on the dolls — only to find themselves leaving empty-handed and disappointed. By the time Black Friday rolled around, there were reports of riots breaking out, with department stores hiring security guards for the season in an effort to minimize harm from the madness.
The demand for Cabbage Patch dolls on Black Friday 1983 was such a phenomenon that it led to subsequent fads as a staple of the holiday shopping season (complete with intentionally throttled inventory that created manufactured — but highly profitable — demand.
Incredibly, it is the entirely unexpected Cabbage Patch Kids event in the early 80s that helped to establish Black Friday as the major shopping event we know it as today (complete with the occasional toy riot!).
Ready for adoption! Showcasing showcases brunette yarn hair, brown eyes, a soft body, plastic head, and baby powder scent, this adorable, retro-style Cabbage Patch Kid doll comes with a unique name, birth certificate and adoption papers -- all reminiscent of the original Cabbage Patch Kid look and feel! Now, kids young and old can once again enjoy the vintage style of the original Cabbage Patch Kid dolls.
Cabbage Patch Kids on the cover of Newsweek magazine (1983)
Cabbage Patch Kids Gang — from an 80s storybook
Meet the Cabbage Patch Kids gang! (From left to right)
Mary Beth, Megan, Justin, Norma Jeam, Nick, A.J. Myles, Vernon, Melonie, Michiko, Travis, Barry, Prissy, Shereena, Billy, and Missy.
Cabbage Patch Kids read-along story books from Parker Brothers (1984)
Look what grew out of the Cabbage Patch.
Cabbage Patch Kids story books. Cassettes with read-along books. Records and tapes of the ‘Kids’ favorite songs and music. Now you can visit the ‘Patch anytime you like.
80s Cabbage Patch Kids photo story book — “‘Kids on the Go!”
ColecoINK newsletter with Cabbage Patch Kids and real children (1984)
In Corporate Communications, we get loads of pictures of Cabbage Patch Kids and look-alikes from doting parents and grandparents. We’ve picked a, few of our latest plums to share with COLECO INK readers!
Top: Kathy Gainty (Operations) sent us this wonderful shot of 8-week old niece Melissa Warner of Kentwood, Michigan.
Center: This little Cabbage Patcher is Heath Welch, of Weare, New Hampshire, brought to us in person by Grandma Mrs, Avra Welch of Farmington, Conn.
Bottom: Which is the real Kid? The one in the center is 6 month old Matthew Krosin of Jensen Beach, Florida, sent by dad Gary Krosin.
Retro Cabbage Patch Kids backpacks and shoes (1985)
A Cabbage Patch Christmas — Classic photo storybook (1980s)
Vintage ‘Cabbage Patch Kids Adventure’ storybook (1980s)
Cabbage Patch dolls, bikes, and more at Toys ‘R Us in 1983
Cabbage Patch Kids originals (1985)
No matter how hard they try, original Cabbage Patch Kids will never grow any taller. Only more lovable.
Xavier Roberts’ handcrafted, limited-edition babies possess a unique, heartwarming appeal. From the day they’re delivered at BabyLand General Hospital, these one-of-a-kind ‘Kids grow more precious. More collectible.
Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids Club House (1986)
Coleco builds fun as big as all outdooors.
The Cabbage Patch Kids Club House is big enough for ther whole gang. Dutch door and side window shutters open and close. And inside there’s even a play phone, clock, and drop-leaf table.
Cabbage Patch Kids Cereal contest (1985)
Cabbage Patch Kids dolls: Catalog page (1985)
By now, all the world knows the story of the magical Cabbage Patch. A new harvest of Kids and Preemies has just arrived at Babyland General Hospital.
Their cuddly friends, the Koosas, are coming in from Wykoosa Valley too. And best of all, there are now Cabbage Patch Kids Twins and World Travelers.
Cabbage Patch Kids Olympikids dolls (1996)
These Cabbage Patch Kids Olympikids are proudly wearing the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Replica Award Suits by Champion, 1996 U.S. Olympic Team.
Toys ‘R Us Cabbage Patch dolls ad (1997)
Vintage Cabbage Patch Kids catalog page from the 80s
As seen on TV… the Cabbage Patch Kids.
Adopt one, and fill a little heart with all your love. Select a girt or boy, black or white and hair color only — we’ll do the rest. They’ve got baby-soft vinyl faces, big wistful eyes, pudgy fingers and toes, dimpled knees and elbows… even a cute belly button.
Cabbage Patch Kids paper dolls (1984)
Now the Cabbage Patch Kids are full-color paper dolls! And they’re as charming and lovable as ever.
Avalon’s exclusive Deluxe Paper Doll Set includes three sturdy 9-inch tall paper dolls made of heavy board; withstands, yarn for hair, 20 costumes plus accessories, and a Magic Touch Glue Stick so costumes can be used again and again.
Retro 80s Cabbage Patch Kids bedding (1984)
Cabbage Patch Kid Coordinates… enter the enchanted world of garden-grown playmates and blooming loyalty with these child-pleasing bedroom coordinates.
From the Sears catalog, bedding included a quilted bedspread, pillow sham, canopy, tablecover, rod-pocket Priscilla (curtains), and muslin sheet sets.
Introducing Cabbage Patch Kids Cereal (1985)
New Cabbage Patch Kids brand Cereal is the one cereal both moms and kids can feel good about. Because we took the fun and fantasy of Cabbage Patch, turned it into a delicious taste that kids love, and then made it low in sugar!
How low? Only 3 grams of sugar per serving compared with 10 to 13 grams in most children’s cereals, so you can decide the right amount of sugar your kids eat for breakfast. And what’s more, there are no artificial flavors, either.
New Cabbage Patch Kids Cereal is SO delicious, such fun to eat and so low in sugar, you’ll see why it’s the first kids’ cereal even mothers will love.
Vintage Coleco Cabbage Patch Kids dolls toys and accessories (1986)
Wal-Mart Cabbage Patch Dolls (1998)
Cabbage Patch Love ‘n Care Baby doll (1993)
How do I Love ‘n Care? Let me count the ways!
1. diaper her.
2. feed her.
3. button her.
4. snap her.
5. zipper her.
6. tie her shoes.
7. put on her hat.
These sewn-on features won’t get lost, and she’s machine washable and dryer safe, too!