The weird world of Cabbage Patch Kids

Another successful cabbage patch delivery. (via cabbatchpatchkids.com)Another successful cabbage patch delivery. (via cabbatchpatchkids.com)
When a Cabbage Patch Kid is born it's smacked into life on its bottom.
Or whatever you want to call those pin cushions divided by a piece of flesh-colored floss and tattooed with Xavier Roberts' signature.

When he first created Cabbage Patch Kids in 1978, Roberts decided his John Hancock would mark the behind of
every doll. That was just one of Robert's weird decisions. Another was to name a line of bald-headed dolls "preemies". Another was to buy an abandoned medical facility and turn it into a neonatal unit for those "preemies".

Today Babyland General Hospital, in Cleveland, Georgia, gets about 200,000 visitors annually- a number that's bound to increase as a
new generation is introduced to the dolls next year. The Hollywood Reporter just announced Robert's concept will be remade into a cartoon special.

If you do go to Babyland General, which expanded to a nearby 70,000 square foot mansion last year, you should know a few things.

  • At Babyland General, all Cabbage Patch Kids are born from cabbages. Nurses pull them from the vaginal-like cavity of a cabbage head, which now has the luxury of being incubated like a fast food chicken instead of growing on a farm.
  • The delivery process is called an "easy-odomy". And one nurse made a point to tell the Orlando Sentinel reporter back in 1991 in all seriousness, that they've never had to perform a cabbage c-section.
  • Although cabbages go through a lot in the birthing process-they dilate, have sonograms and are connected to a IV drip filled with "imagin-icllin"-they stop short of feeling maternal love for their child.
  • Licensed Patch Nurses, as they're known, can tell when a doll is about to hatch, because a magic crystal tree looming over the cabbage patch lights up.
  • Babyland employees of all trades walk around in lab coats, surgeons masks or candy striper outfits. But not all oversee delivery. Some perform hair transplant and cosmetic surgery on Cabbage Patch Lids for a fee. One of the treatments available is called "bath camp" or a chemical peel to freshen a doll's plastic face.
  • After a Cabbage Patch kid is born it's taken to the nurse's station, presided over by a stork with reading glasses. It's threads are counted for 10 finger and 10 toe indentions.
  • Every cabbage patch kid in the medical facility is for sale, but before your credit card is charged, each adopting child has to make an oath of good parenting.
  • Newborn "cabbies" are more expensive than older dolls that reside in the hospital's classroom, frozen in front of their lunch trays.
  • Just in case you're wondering, Babyland also hosts conferences and weddings.

Babyland General bares little memory of the depression era hospital it once was. Now it's a major employer for the rural mountain area. Home videos of Babyland tours and delivery performances show a world that's part childhood fantasy, part turn-of-the-century mental hospital. What is it about the cabbage patch concept that clicks so well with kids and makes adults a little crazy?

In an attempt to answer that question, child psychologists were brought in by the toy company in 1982 to study the reaction both adults and children had to the idea of an "adopted" rather than purchased doll. They surmised that realistic (ish) baby imagery released a nurturing mechanism in our brains. For kids it's good practice, for adults it's creepy.

In a focus group, adult women presented with the dolls developed an all too close connection. ''[Women]held the dolls on their laps, stroked them, held their hands, took off their sweaters when they thought it had become too warm," Dr. Ruth Manko, a psychologist involved in the research told New York Times in 1984. "One woman I remember was knitting a sweater for her doll."

Watch a live delivery at Babyland General below...


...And check out a tour of part of the facility.



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