Cabbage Patch Kids® are the design of Xavier Roberts, who first created cloth dolls with uniquely dented faces for sale at craft shows and fairs. Toy manufacturer Coleco quickly noticed their appeal, and the toys underwent some slight changes before being sold to the general public in 1983. The principal change on Roberts’ design was to make the heads out of vinyl, while keeping the soft cloth for the bodies. Cabbage Patch Kids® were marketed as unique and adoptable, prompting a storm of demand for them especially in 1983.
Coleco made the dolls until 1989, and then the design for Cabbage Patch Kids® was picked up by other companies like Mattel. Each doll had its own clothing, an adoption certificate, and slight variations in facial structure so that each was essentially "unique." Cabbage Patch Kids® were also manufactured in the Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia. This remains a popular place for visitors who want to obtain a doll for their children, and to see some of the previous collections of dolls.
Cabbage Patch Kids® had both boy and girl dolls, perhaps reflecting the trends in the 1980s of more unisex play items for children. For a while, they remained in high demand, but their popularity gradually faded. Since other companies picked up their manufacture after the bankruptcy of Coleco, the dolls have come in and out of style. What make them particularly appealing to children are their friendly faces, and the sense that the child has “adopted” the doll. They are often a great choice for kids who might have a new sibling on the way.
There have been some interesting urban legends associated with Cabbage Patch Kids® that are relatively amusing albeit morbid. One was that children who sent dolls back to the manufacturers received a death certificate. This did not occur and has never been verified.
The charm of Cabbage Patch Kids® remains. A few rode in a 1985 space shuttle mission. The dolls played mascots for the 1992 teams from the US participating in the Olympics, and they have been celebrated as a symbol of the 1980s, appearing on US stamps. A few times, the dolls have been lampooned, as was the case with Garbage Pail Kids cards used for trading. These were relatively grotesque imitations of Cabbage Patch Kids® produced in 1985, and remain somewhat popular as collectors’ items.