About 250,000 visitors come to BabyLand General Hospital in Cleveland, Ga., to watch Cabbage Patch Kids be born and/or to adopt one.
We gathered around a massive tree to witness the delivery of a baby. A nurse was present to oversee the delivery while another member of BabyLand General Hospital in Cleveland, Ga., explained the process.
This was no ordinary delivery. And yet the child came with papers, ready to be adopted.
It's all part of the lore of Cabbage Patch Kids, a toy that's refused to lessen in popularity since its inception 40 years ago.
The idea for the dolls began when art student Xavier Roberts began experimenting with clay sculpture, "needle molding" and quilting techniques taught to him by his mother. The style derives from old German quilting patterns and Appalachian Mountain art techniques. His goal? To produce a soft doll that resembled a baby.
At the time, he called his creation "The Little People" and sold the dolls at regional craft fairs. He explained to buyers that he found these dolls in a cabbage patch, they were available for adoption and passed on instructions on how to be good parents.
The dolls were later moved to retail stores, each with a birth certificate to the lucky buyer. Along came Coleco Industries who offered Roberts a licensing agreement. When Coleco sold Robert's creations in 1983, they called their version "Cabbage Patch Kids."
To say these adoptive dolls took off would be a grave understatement. The Cabbage Patch Kids became the best-selling baby doll of all time, causing chaos during the holidays as parents stormed retail stores in an effort to purchase the last one.
Over the years, more than 140 million "adoptions" of Cabbage Patch Kids have been made worldwide.
I asked when I visited BabyLand General Hospital if the Cabbage Patch Kids were still as popular. About 250,000 visitors come to Cleveland, Ga., every year to view the inventory, plan an adoption and to watch new Cabbage Patch Kids be born. Admission to the hospital is free, as well as the exhibits explaining the Cabbage Patch Kids' history.
Surrounding the massive (fake) tree inside BabyLand are the heads of little Cabbage Patch Kids peeking out from, yes, cabbages. One lucky doll, when its time arrives, gets plucked from the base of the tree and "born." They then go to the infirmary to await their adoptive parents. Buyers may choose the doll's clothes, eye, hair and skin color and other attributes so their doll is unique. They come in different styles and makes, depending on the parent's preferences and pocketbook.
This year, the Cabbage Patch Kids were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y. Criteria for being selected include parents and kids who have grown up playing with the toy, recognizability and play values of learning, creativity, discovery and socialization. Cabbage Patch Kids are still considered the most successful new doll in the history of the toy industry.
"It was a special honor that the Kids have been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame," Roberts said in a press release. "The Strong Museum understands the importance of play as a way to share love unconditionally, individuality, multicultural play and the celebration of being one-of-a-kind. These cornerstones are so important to the imagination and compassion in a child's development through role-playing."
Want to experience the World of Cabbage Patch Kids and BabyLand General? Check out this video. But if you plan on adopting a Cabbage Patch baby, be sure and visit BabyLand where you can witness the baby's birth. It's quite the show.
Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by
Cheré Dastugue Coen. She loved visiting BabyLand and watching a doll being plucked from a cabbage patch.