How Cabbage Patch Kids Led to the Black Friday Craze

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Cabbage Patch Kids at the launch of Dream Toys 2012 at St Mary's Church on October 31, 2012 in London, England
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To some, Black Friday is an exciting day, full of Christmas shopping and amazing deals. To others, it is a nightmare of crowds and consumerism. Guess which camp I fall into? Anyway, no matter how you look at it, Black Friday has been a craze for many decades, with more and more companies spreading out the deals all week and making them available online. Turns out, Black Friday came about partially due to the iconic Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.

In a new documentary called Billion Dollar Babies: The True Story of the Cabbage Patch Kids, fans can learn about the history of the dolls and the year that the hysteria for grabbing toys at a discount price began. Director Andrew Jenks spoke about how the company that created the toys, Coleco, didn’t have enough supply especially due to the high demand for the toys in the year 1983.

BILLION DOLLAR BABIES: THE TRUE STORY OF THE CABBAGE PATCH KIDS, vintage footage of Cabbage Patch Kids, 1980s, 2022

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He explained, “I think what Cabbage Patch Kids certainly did is make big companies aware or reinforced the idea of just how big of a difference it can make if you have a shortened supply. By that, I mean, Coleco was … quite surprised at how many people, millions and millions of people, wanted one, and they didn’t have enough. They made a big announcement that there would be no commercials, and obviously that just created an even bigger craze. I think this idea of, whether purposeful or not, letting the public know that there’s only so many you can get, is a strategy that has certainly been used in the years since.”

Cabbage Patch Kids sold at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London, UK, 2nd December 1983

Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Billion Dollar Babies executive producer Dan Goodman added, “As we started really delving into it, we realized that Cabbage Patch Kids was the first time retail shopping turned violent. There were great fads and stuff before, but nobody went to the hospital when they went to Toys ‘R’ Us, or a Kmart or something to buy a toy. I think it was that jumping off point that led us down this path of looking at the broader scope of the story of capitalism and how it’s progressed and gotten us to where we are as a society today.”

AUKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 31: Farmer Howe Young of Young Wah Chong farm south of Pukekohe in Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday 30th March 2005, is baffled to discover the first reported case of Cabbage Patch Kids growing wild in an otherwise ordinary field of cabbages. For more information contact Donald Holder 021 241 0448

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Even more interesting, a lot of people find the dolls quite ugly but they still became a hugely popular collectors item and gift for children. The documentary creators believe that even though some found the dolls undesirable to look at, they were beloved because they weren’t perfect. Kids could see themselves in the dolls and they didn’t have unattainable features like Barbie. Cabbage Patch Kids come in different skin tones, with different eye colors and hair colors so kids can choose one that looks just like them, making them more appealing.

Do you remember the crazy lines and crowds to try to get Cabbage Patch Kids back in the ’80s? Do you like to go Black Friday shopping?

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