Cabbage Patch Kids Chaos: The Wild 1983 Riots

by | Jun 21, 2023 | Toys and Games

The the Cabbage Patch Kids were the hottest toy on the market in 1983. The dolls, with their unique features and adoption papers, were flying off the shelves and becoming a must-have item for children everywhere. But what started as a harmless holiday gift quickly turned into a frenzy that would go down in history as the Cabbage Patch Doll Riots.

It all began when stores couldn’t keep up with the demand for the dolls. Parents were lining up for hours, even days, just to get their hands on one. As the holiday season approached, tensions began to rise, and the scarcity of the dolls only made matters worse. Soon, fights were breaking out in stores, and people were getting injured in the chaos. The situation got so out of hand that police had to be called in to control the crowds.

The Backstory

In the late 1970s, a young artist named Xavier Roberts started creating handmade dolls in his hometown of Cleveland, Georgia. He called them “Little People” and sold them at local craft fairs. The dolls were unique in that each one was slightly different, with its own name and birth certificate.

In 1978, Roberts met Martha Nelson Thomas, a woman who had been making similar dolls for years. They joined forces and began creating what would eventually become the Cabbage Patch Kids. They opened Babyland General Hospital, a storefront where customers could watch the dolls being “born” and adopt them.

The dolls quickly became a sensation, with people lining up around the block to get their hands on one. By the early 1980s, they were a nationwide craze, with millions of dolls sold and a Saturday morning cartoon show.

But with popularity came scarcity. Stores couldn’t keep the dolls on the shelves, and parents were desperate to get their hands on them for their children. This led to the infamous 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids riots.

The Ad and Demand

In 1983, the Cabbage Patch Dolls were the hottest toy on the market. The dolls had a unique look and were marketed as special because each one was different. The demand for these dolls quickly outstripped the supply, and stores across the country were sold out.

The advertising for the Cabbage Patch Dolls was everywhere. Commercials on TV, ads in newspapers and magazines, and even billboards on the side of the road. The message was clear: you had to have a Cabbage Patch Doll.

As the holiday season approached, the demand for the dolls grew even more intense. Parents were desperate to get their hands on one for their children, and stores were struggling to keep up with the demand. Some stores tried to limit the number of dolls each customer could buy, but this only made the situation worse.

People began to line up outside stores before they even opened, hoping to get a chance to buy a Cabbage Patch Doll. When the stores sold out, angry customers started to riot. They smashed windows, overturned displays, and fought with each other over the few remaining dolls.

The Cabbage Patch Dolls had become a symbol of the consumer frenzy of the 1980s. People were willing to do whatever it took to get their hands on one, even if it meant resorting to violence. It was a strange time, but the Cabbage Patch Dolls will always be remembered as a unique and special product that captured the hearts of millions of people in 1983.

Cabbage Patch Kids Riots

The Riots

In 1983, the Cabbage Patch Kids craze hit the United States with full force. Parents were desperate to get their hands on these dolls for their children during the holiday season. The demand was so high that some stores began to limit the number of dolls each customer could purchase. This led to chaos and riots in stores across the country.

The riots were not limited to one specific event, but rather a series of incidents that occurred during the holiday shopping season. One of the most infamous incidents was the Black Friday Riot at a Sears department store in Indiana. Shoppers were pushing, shoving, and trampling each other in an attempt to get their hands on the scarce Cabbage Patch Dolls. Some even resorted to using baseball bats to get their way.

The police were called in to control the crowds, but it was too late. The Cabbage Patch Doll craze had turned into consumer anarchy.

Cabbage Patch Kids Market

The toy industry had never seen anything like this before. The demand for Cabbage Patch Dolls was so high that stores were selling out within minutes of opening. Parents were willing to pay top dollar for the dolls, and some even resorted to purchasing tickets to enter stores early.

The popularity of the Cabbage Patch Dolls was due in part to the marketing campaign created by Coleco, the company that produced the dolls. The adoption papers that came with each doll gave them a unique personality and backstory, which made them more than just a toy.

The popularity of the Cabbage Patch Dolls also led to the creation of other toy crazes, such as Furby and Little People. Child psychologists even got involved, studying why children were so attached to these dolls.

In the end, the Cabbage Patch Doll craze died down, but it left a lasting impact on the toy industry. It showed that customization and unique marketing campaigns could create a toy craze that would capture the attention of the public.

The Cabbage Patch Riots may have been a dark moment in consumer history, but they also showed the power of marketing and the love that parents have for their children.

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