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Dark truth behind Cabbage Patch Kids is ruining people’s childhoods

Dark truth behind Cabbage Patch Kids is ruining people’s childhoods

The bizarre dolls managed to spark a craze, controversy and scraps in shops that we regularly see during the Black Friday sales

The debut of Cabbage Patch Kids managed to spark a craze, controversy and the scraps in shops that we regularly see during the Black Friday sales.

Parents fought it out in toy stores across the US to get their hands on one of the the cloth dolls with plastic heads which came with a birth certificate and adoption papers.

The cuteness of the toys is debatable, but kids in the early 1980s couldn't get enough of them - so mums and dads had to do battle in the aisles.

A new documentary Billion Dollar Babies will now explore the unprecedented toy trend which shaped the world of retail as we know it today.

Film-maker Andrew Jenks even managed to bag the first interview in over 20 years with the man behind the madness, Xavier Roberts.

He was a 21-year-old art student when he first began to market his dolls after Kentucky folk artist Martha Nelson took him under her wing.

She had produced her own range of soft-sculpture toys called Doll Babies in 1971, which included the novelty aspect of a birth certificate and adoption papers.

Cabbage Patch Kids changed the world of retail forever.
Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images

Roberts used to buy these toys and sell them on in his own store for profit, but decided to fashion his own line after the supply chain ground to a halt.

He hand-stitched his own range of dolls and dubbed them 'The Little People', but was later forced to ditch the name - and the Cabbage Patch Kids were born.

The artist's mission to dominate the children's toy market was well underway, as his elaborate backstory for the dolls - where he was the main character - managed to sell the magic to youngsters across America.

Obviously, this didn't go down well with Nelson, who felt he had completely ripped off her Doll Babies, as Cabbage Patch Kids similarly boasted overly round faces and came with an adoption and birth certificate.

Nelson went on to sue her former client and eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in 1985 - but said she was more upset by the alleged corruption of her creation, rather than the money she had lost out on due to Roberts' business move.

The dolls triggered a fierce legal battle and Black Friday brawls.
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In Billion Dollar Babies, he said the accusation he had stolen the design 'hurt', although he did admit Nelson had mentored him.

As well as a legal battle, Roberts unknowingly introduced an era of Black Friday retail violence, as parents would draw blood to make sure their kid had a Cabbage Patch doll.

In November 1983, shoppers were routinely injured as they attempted to secure one of the toys, meaning police were regularly called to retail stores.

A stampede of 150 shoppers trampled on a 75-year-old man in North Miami Beach, while a pregnant woman was also reportedly injured in similar circumstances in New Jersey.

A woman elbowed another Cabbage Patch customer to 'near unconsciousness' in Paramus too.

"The brawls and the melees, that kind of passion — and the idea that they made billions,” Jenks said when discussing what inspired him to make Billion Dollar Babies.

The subsequent media coverage of chaos in the aisles for Cabbage Patch Kids only added fuel to the fire, making store brawls a regular occurrence.

Featured Image Credit: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Topics: Black Friday, Shopping, US News, Weird, Documentaries