Modern Culture27 Oct 2008 11:41 am
Nineteen eighty-three was the year that saw the U.S. Embassy bombed in Beirut (killing 63 people), Margaret Thatcher’s landslide victory in Britain, McDonald’s introduction of the Chicken McNugget and the broadcast of Michael Jackson’s landmark “Thriller” video. It was also the year that the yarn-haired, plump-cheeked and bug-eyed Cabbage Patch Kid dolls took the toy market by storm, setting off a nationwide melee at toy stores as the “must have” gift of the Christmas season.
These derrière-tattooed dolls (the signature of their inventor, Xavier Roberts, was printed on each doll) inspired a passionate fervor never before seen in toy history. Reports of crazed parents fighting, screaming, clawing and scratching each other in the aisles of toy stores blanketed the nightly news. By Christmas, the demand for the highly coveted dolls had far outstripped supply, and some stores had to call in the police to control the restless mobs of angry shoppers. Incredibly, a Milwaukee radio DJ famously convinced two dozen of people to stand in Milwaukee County Stadium, with credit cards raised to the sky, for the opportunity to vie for the spoils of an airborne delivery of 2,000 Cabbage Patch Kids.
The Cabbage Patch Kids craze hit a fevered pitch when Mary Toole, a Sioux Falls mother of two, held up her local Toys R’ Us store with a spork and a BB Gun, demanding a doll for her daughter. Luckily, only two people were injured in the hijacking, but holiday toy shopping had forever lost its innocence. Other notable toy crazes include the “Elmo-mania” of Christmas 1996, which left two moms, one dad and a Walmart sales clerk in critical condition after they were trampled in a frenzied dash for the giggly plush toy. According to People magazine, the hapless clerk, “suffered a pulled hamstring, injuries to his back, jaw and knee, a broken rib and a concussion.” However, nothing could quite top the Furby frenzy of 1998, which prompted two known suicides, a shootout and a million dollar lawsuit in its gruesome wake.
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