Strawberry Shortcake was popular because she was cute and sweet and so very pink — but she was also popular because she was everywhere. We’re not just talking about the dolls, or even the toy houses. Licensed products featuring the pixie-faced girl included everything from underwear to roller skates, furniture to wallpaper.

The little girl who was obsessed with little Miss Shortcake probably dreamed of winning this pink and red world of hearts and strawberries — the ultimate bedroom makeover. The prize package included more than 75 pieces of sugary sweet delight (the full list of goodies is below), ensuring that the kid who won the stuff would indeed have a berry, berry nice day.

The ultimate over-the-top Strawberry Shortcake room makeover

Win a Strawberry Shortcake room, wardrobe & more

Our best contest yet! Win a 5-day trip to New York for the whole family! Be Strawberry Shortcake’s guests at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Stay at the Plaza Hotel. Receive everything in the room shown below, plus a complete Strawberry Shortcake wardrobe! And a complete beauty makeover for mom in the famous Good Housekeeping beauty clinic!

Room prize includes: Blanket, comforters, bedspread, sheet set, pillow shams, draperies, headboard, mattress, box spring, sleeping bag, bedside table, 4 towels, vanity with stool, large pedestal table with 2 chairs, small pedestal table, side chair, TV tray, wastebasket, ceramic light, lamp, music box, clock, bank, 3 framed pictures, wall clock, memo board, wall poster, set of plastic dishes, glassware set, cake pan, tricycle, berry buggy, garden set, doll accessories, berry bake shop, board game, craft… roller skates, 5 books, 13″ rag doll, 12 5-1/2″ dolls, record series, Halloween costume, balloon party kit, party hats, party favors, gold charm, ornament, pin, necklace, ribbons, notepad, note cards, gift boxes, greeting cards, gift wrap, 2 candles, wallpaper.

See the ultimate over-the-top Strawberry Shortcake bedroom makeover

Strawberry Shortcake bedroom makeover - wallpaper, furniture, sheets, toys and more from the '80s

See the ultimate over the top Strawberry Shortcake bedroom makeover from 1982 (1)

Set of Strawberry Shortcake dolls from 1982


Strawberry Shortcake: Little girls love her … and so do big capitalists (1982)

Like millions of other little girls, Andrea Kvasnak can’t get enough of Strawberry Shortcake; Santa Claus gave her a Strawberry Shortcake doll — this past Christmas season’s hottest-seller, and a Berry Bake Shop. Already she owns the Strawberry Shortcake Playdoh set, the Berries-to-Market boardgame, and the Slap-the-Strawberry card game.

At her birthday party a few weeks ago, Andrea and her friends ate Strawberry Shortcake doll-shaped birthday cake from Strawberry Shortcake plates at a table covered with a Strawberry Shortcake tablecloth. Then, they wiped the pink frosting off their mouths with Strawberry Shortcake napkins.

Perhaps you have never heard of Strawberry Shortcake. Maybe the name means nothing to you. If pressed to name a doll. you’d say “Barbie” or “Raggedy Ann.”

Well, wake up: Strawberry Shortcake is a billion-dollar baby.

1982 Strawberry Shortcake doll

Her pink-hued world consists of nightgowns, knee socks, dresses, wristwatches, sleeping bags, scratch-and-sniff books, rag dolls, bicycles, miniature dolls, wastepaper baskets, notebooks, pillowcases, book bags, front license markers, posters, scented wrapping paper, coloring books and — believe it or not — much more. General Mills is testing tie-in foods; it is putting out a puffed corn breakfast cereal and is planning a one-time promotion of Strawberry Land’s blueberry muffin mix for the fall.

Sixty manufacturers hold the licenses to produce the toys, games, clothes and other paraphernalia. After final tallies are made. merchandise sales are expected to exceed $300 million in 1981. Sales for 1982 are expected to hit $500 million. They’re calling it “pink gold.”

Kenner Toys of Cincinnati has made and shipped 20 million dolls this year, but shortages around the country are a problem, said John Beck, manager of consumer relations.

Strawberry Shortcake differs from other successful toy campaigns (“Star Wars,” Dukes of Hazzard”) because it does not come from a movie or television show. But now, in a reversal of the usual trend, a sales promotion campaign calls for four television specials every year through 1985.

Vintage Strawberry Shortcake card - Christmas c1980

How Miss Shortcake made her debut

Strawberry Shortcake was born into the free-enterprise system as a greeting card design of American Greetings Co. in 1980. She wore a hot pink and red dress with an apron front and a strawberry print bonnet.

Then, Kenner introduced the 5-1/2-inch Strawberry Shortcake doll and four aromatic friends last year. The dolls and some of their accessories are scented with strawberry, lilac, apple and other fragrances. This year, four new characters joined the tea party. (The clan consists of Strawberry, Huckleberry Pie, Blueberry Muffin, Apple Dumplin’, Raspberry Tart, Lemon Meringue, Apricot ‘n Hopsalot, Orange Blossom, Custard and the dog Pupcake.)

What were the most popular toys in the early ’80s? See toys, games & fun for kids in the 1981 Sears Catalog Wishbook

What’s the particular appeal of those whimsical cuties?

“I think it’s because they are small and bright color and I think the child likes the scent,” said Andrea’s mother, Meghan Kvasnak of West Hartford. “And the advertising, quite frankly,. puts it over.”

Andrea sees not only the Strawberry Shortcake television commercials, but large merchandise displays and window displays in stores, her mother said. In toy departments, less aggressive displays look dull beside the eye-catching hot-pink boxes of the berry patch carry case, snail cart, carousel, butterfly garden house and other accessories.

Vintage Strawberry Shortcake Berry Patch Carry Case 1982

Licensed products make millions

Michael Katz, vice-president of marketing at Coleco Industries Inc., the Hartford-based toy and games manufacturer, said the fantasy, magic and fun of the characters appeals to 4- to 8-year-old girls.

Coleco, in a licensing agreement with Kenner, manufactured Strawberry Shortcake doll carriages (the berry buggy, stroller, carriage and coach) in time for Christmas. A splasher pool will be introduced in spring, Katz said.

Coleco designs the products, Katz explained, and gets approval from Kenner, the licensor, on use of the Strawberry Shortcake graphics.

Coleco’s most successful year in the doll carriage business was 1981 because of Strawberry Shortcake, and the company has plans to expand both its doll carriage and pool lines, Katz said.

How to make real classic strawberry shortcake

While manufacturers are finding that nothing could be sweeter than to be a Strawberry Shortcake licensee, others are sour on the strawberry explosion.

Merle Froschl, director of the Non-Sexist Child Development Project of the Women’s Action Alliance, said that the feminine, pink Strawberry Shortcake seems stereotyped in its packaging, promotion and merchandising.

Froschl’s complaint is that Strawberry Shortcake is a sex-specific plaything. Froschl believes that the best toys are those both girls and boys will play with. Strawberry is definitely aimed at girls.

“Given the fact that sex roles do exist, toys can either reinforce sex roles or break them down,” she said. A toy like Strawberry Shortcake reinforces them, she maintains.

Toys should allow a variety of play activities, Froschl said; she said so-called sexist toys are limiting and restrictive.

Meghan Kvasnak agreed that Strawberry Shortcake limits creative possibilities. She said, in fact, that she does not like the doll.

With other dolls, a child can change the clothes or have the doll play varying roles, she pointed out. Strawberry Shortcake’s clothes cannot be changed. When she sees Andrea and her friends “playing Strawberry Shortcake,” the only thing the doll does is bake strawberry things, said Kvasnak. “They (the dolls) don’t reach out and make her do other things.

Beck said he thinks the appeal of Strawberry Shortcake extends beyond children. He said he’s spoken to mothers whose 3-year-old daughters’ rooms are decorated with Strawberry Shortcake draperies, lamp and bedspread.

“The appeal is to the little mothers as much as the little girl,” he said.


Strawberry Shortcake and friends – stained glass ornaments (1981)

Stand these playful little 3-1/2″ high figures and house in a window — anywhere — and watch them catch the light! To make them, you just follow the easy make-by-number directions, filling molds with brilliantly-colored plastic baking crystals. Easy! Out of the oven in minutes. Kit, just $7.98.

See more retro-style craft kits like these from Makit & Bakit!

Strawberry Shortcake and friends - stained glass ornaments from 1982


About this story

Source publication: Photos from Good Housekeeping, August 1982; Article from The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) January 10, 1982

Filed under: 1980s, Family & parenting, For children, Magazines, Toys and games

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