You would think that baby-dolls known for sprouting from the grounds of a magical forest would only have characteristics of the cute and innocent. But, there once was a dark side to the Cabbage Patch bunch—a side so terrifying that it actually had the power to literally swallow the hair off a child’s head. Mattel’s release of these cannibal Cabbage Patch certainly redefined “Snacktime,” but how did this multibillion-dollar brand gain enough affinity to be able to produce such a horror?
Follow The Bunnybee
The story of the Cabbage Patch Kid tells of a young boy named Xavier Roberts, who was led by a Bunnybee through a waterfall, down a long tunnel, and out into a magical land where a cabbage patch grew little children. In the story, Roberts agreed to find loving homes for every one of these little sprouts. And, Believe It or Not!, the real-life inventor of the Cabbage Patch Kids is in fact, Xavier Roberts.
Well, there’s a bit of a discrepancy surrounding where the idea of the dolls actually came from. Apparently, Roberts was “inspired by” the design of American folk artist, Martha Nelson Thomas. She called them Doll Babies, and she sold her handmade friends at craft fairs, where people could “adopt” their very own. Sounds a bit familiar.
Unfortunately, Thomas never copyrighted her art, so Roberts was totally able to snatch up the idea for the dolls. And, if you’ve ever owned a Cabbage Patch Kid you’d know that he printed his name right on the tush of every doll; talk about making your mark!
Toy Store Riots
As business boomed, stores struggled to keep Cabbage Patch on the shelves. Shortages of the dolls even led to mini-riots in toy stores across the country, usually with accompanying police interventions and many physical altercations.
Eventually, Roberts was unable to produce the toy, as a result of the extremely high demand. The manufacturer ownership passed from Coleco to Hasbro and officially landed with Mattel where new versions of the doll were born—some a bit more dangerous than others.
My Dolly Does It All
Some variants of the Cabbage Patch had teeth, others had tongues, and many even came with full heads of yarn hair. Every model was equally as popular as the last. But, in 1995, Mattel was eager to innovate the brand even further and truly push the boundaries of their hottest toy on the market.
Cabbage Patch were seen on local television ads swimming, getting their haircut, and eating! Yes, The Snacktime Kid was a huge hit…at first.
The whole draw with the Snacktime Kid was that it could truly eat. A child could place plastic foods near the doll’s lips and open mouth. Thanks to a battery-powered motor, the Cabbage Patch would begin to move its “jaw” as it chewed and sucked the food into an empty abdomen cavity. Kids could empty the cavity and reuse whatever food was fed to their doll. You can hear the motors at work:
Unfortunately, the jaws of a Snacktime Kid were a bit too powerful to be a children’s toy. Constructed of a series of small motors, unable to reverse or stop if something were to get stuck, the rollers inside continued to go and go and go until the object entered and exited the mouth successfully. So yes, Mattel basically marketed a children’s toy that could totally chomp up your child…sort of.
Snacktime Is Over
To no surprise, kids began feeding their dollies with pencils, paper, shoelaces, and unwittingly, their hair. The screaming and concerned parent calls began rolling in shortly after the release of The Snacktime Kid. One mother had to chop off all the hair of her daughter as a result of it being swallowed continuously by her Cabbage Patch.
After receiving hundreds of complaints about the dolls, Mattel offered $40 refunds to the 500,000 people who purchased the doll and removed 200,000 unsold dolls from stores, stopping the potential cannibal Cabbage Patch in their tracks for good.
So, if you’re lucky enough to have a Snacktime Kid in your attic or basement, consider it a true collector’s item. Mattel, or any other toy company for that matter, has never tried to duplicate the actions of the Snacktime Kid, and it seems like that’s probably in everyone’s best interest.