Saturday, August 1, 2015

"Berry Patch Kids" Dolls at Knott's Berry Farm

In 1982, Coleco signed a deal with Xavier Roberts to begin mass producing his "Little People" line of dolls. The next year, they were introduced as "Cabbage Patch Kids" at the International Toy Fair in New York City and were such a huge hit that by Christmastime, they were causing rioting in stores across the country, by parents that were determined to get their hands on one for their children.

Flash forward two more years to 1985, when Knott's Berry Farm was revamping the Ghost Town area of the park for it's "Ghost Town Alive in '85" summer promotion. It was at this time, that the Knott's Berry Kids were "born."

These hand-sewn dolls were an obvious attempt to get in on the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomenon that was still going strong at the time. (Incidentally, Xavier Roberts' first Cabbage Patch dolls were also hand-sewn and originally had cloth faces and bodies.)

A convoluted backstory was created to explain how the Berry Kids were discovered by Walter Knott in his "magical berry patch." This was similar to the "discovery legend" that accompanied every Cabbage Patch Kids doll, explaining how Xavier Roberts found the kids in a "magical cabbage patch." This legend was printed out and included with each purchase of a Knott's Berry Kid.

I remember these dolls being pretty popular with guests that first summer and on into the Christmas season. I bought several sets of these as Christmas gifts for family members. This is a set that I bought for my mom.

Knott's Berry Kids were made exclusively for Knott's Berry Farm by "Carleen."

I wonder if that's "Carleen" in the photo below. It's interesting to note that the dolls in the basket appear to be wearing a purple or "boysenberry" color and that the dolls being sold were wearing more of a maroon color.

The woman seen above is sitting on a porch that was located across the street from the Barber Shop and the Silver Dollar Saloon on Main Street, but the dolls were actually sold at the Bonnet Shop on School Road (currently the Halloween Haunt Museum and formerly Mrs. Murphy's Boarding House, among many other things).

I hope everyone enjoyed this short little trip to Walter Knott's magical berry patch. I leave you now with this pic of the Berry Kids as they go off into the patch to look for the boysenberry-colored caterpillar, butterfly, and bird....and the elf carrying a miniature pail of boysenberries....oh, and "Rhubarb" the scarecrow! What the heck? I wonder who came up with that story?


outsidetheberm said...

Well, how about that! Knott's Berry Kids - I've never heard about this neat bit of Knott's history. My two daughters were knee deep in collecting the Cabbage Patch Dolls at the time, too. Don't know how we missed these! Do you remember the old Cabbage Patch Doll store/museum down the street at Hobby City?

TokyoMagic! said...

OTB, I do remember hearing about the store at Hobby City, but I have never actually been to Hobby City or the amusement park next door (Adventure City?). Didn't they sell some of the "original" Cabbage Patch dolls in that store...the ones with the cloth faces and bodies?

outsidetheberm said...

That's my understanding. I think we only visited the store once, though - those dolls were pretty odd looking to me. The rest of Hobby City was quite something back in its heyday. Loved the train and coin shops.

Major Pepperidge said...

I was always mystified as to the incredible popularity of those homely Cabbage Patch Dolls - the novelty of getting "adoption" papers with the dolls seemed to be the key. At least the Berry Patch Kids resemble traditional folk dolls... sort of a "Raggedy Ann" thing. I have never heard of these dolls before!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, you and OTB have pretty much hit the nail on the head with your descriptions, "odd" and "homely." I never understood the mass attraction to these things. Oh, and the "preemies" which didn't have any hair.....THOSE were the scariest of all of them!

Chuck said...

I visited the Cabbage Patch Adoption Center in Hobby City with my wife around 1994-5. It was actually pretty cute, with a "nursery" where you could buy Cabbage Patch dolls or bring your in for a "check-up" or even treatment for a more serious "injury" like a missing arm or head. It was nothing at all like this nightmare-inducing freak show you may have seen online:

Also visited Hobby City's Doll & Toy Museum, located in a half-scale replica of the White House, where I picked up what I think may be the last travel-related View Master reel I ever personally purchased at a tourist site.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I just read that article and that truly does sound nightmarish! So the "clinic" at Hobby City did arm and head transplants? Could the kids sit in on the surgery? I remember seeing that White House replica, but I never stopped by to see what was inside.

Chuck said...

We didn't get to see a procedure while we were there, but it looked like they would do the repairs right out in the open. They also had a recording of babies cooing and occasionally fussing going on in the background to add to the nursery ambiance. I'm pretty sure I have pictures; just need to dig them out.