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File:Cabbage Patch kids 1693.jpg

In 1978, Xavier Roberts started marketing a set of cloth dolls with exaggerated features of a baby under the name of Little People. Initially sold at craft shows, the dolls took off and in 1982, he rebranded them as "Cabbage Patch Kids" and created a backstory involving a young boy named Xavier Roberts following a BunnyBee and discovering the world of the eponymous kids. The dolls became a big hit, inspiring books and an animated Christmas special, but the craze peaked and fell around 1988. The line continued in a smaller vein, going through a series of companies, from Colēco to Hasbro to Mattel, but have largely become a historical footnote.

The dolls had a number of interesting gimmicks. One is that they were ostensibly "adopted" by new owners, not bought (they came with birth certificates). Another is that each doll was slightly different, having been manufactured through a process that would change a variable each time. This helped keep up the "real baby, not a doll" illusion.

Perhaps because of the general cuteness of it all (and the doll's wild popularity), two disturbing Urban Legends sprang up concerning them. One is that dolls returned to the factory for repairs would be returned in coffin-shaped boxes -- or not returned at all -- with a Death Certificate for the bereaved owner. The other is that the dolls' features (close-set eyes and a somewhat pinched face) was all part of a campaign to acclimatize kids to a world in which those features would be common: as a mutation caused by nuclear war. Needless to say, Snopes found no substance in either of these rumors.


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