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?