Historical Treasure: Born in the Cabbage Patch

SubmittedCabbage Patch ‘pet’: A Koosa doll is on display in the window of the Jimmy’s Fine Foods & Toy Mart exhibit at the Vigo County History Center.

Born in the Cabbage Patch in Georgia, these whimsical dolls took the U.S. by storm in the 1980s much like the Beatles did in the 1960s. Capturing the hearts of every child from baby to teenager, the Cabbage Patch Kids became a must have and a fixture in the American household. 

The original Cabbage Patch dolls were created in 1978 by Xavier Roberts, a promising and award-winning art student born in Cleveland, Georgia, who became a millionaire by age 26. Originally called “Little People” and fashioned by hand at Appalachian Artworks, their name evolved to Cabbage Patch Kids when Roberts licensed the dolls to Coleco for mass production in the early-1980s. The dolls had soft-sculpted bodies, vinyl heads and yarn hair and came with a name and birth certificate. They had a clothing line and accessories. They became the biggest toy line of the 1980s, and news stories of the time documented fights and hair pulling over the dolls in stores, especially at Christmastime.

At the height of popularity of the Cabbage Patch Kids, it was decided to expand the Cabbage Family to include the animal kingdom. Designed by Appalachian Artworks and Coleco about 1983, the “Koosas” were born as animal versions of the Cabbage Patch Kids. Koosas were intended to be “pets” for the Cabbage Patch Kids, and included cats, dogs and lions! The Koosa had a soft-sculpted body with molded vinyl head, yarn hair and shaped ears. The information on the Koosa box describes the Koosas as “creatures who lived in the Wykoosa Valley and were thought to bring good luck.” Koosas were also available in small rubber posable figures with movable heads, arms and legs. Koosas had their own line of clothing and accessories and were not named so the owner could choose a name. Debuting in 1986, a rarer, second-wave Koosa was marketed that had a Patch around one eye and a more plush, plump body. In addition to Koosas, Furskins were introduced and were the largest of the Cabbage Patch Kids line.

The Koosa who lives at the Vigo County Historical Museum is a “cat” wearing blue shorts with rainbow suspenders, a tuff of hair on top, and a medallion around his neck. Be sure to look for this cute creature when you visit, but you can’t take him home with you!

The Vigo County History Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Please visit  https://www.vchsmuseum.org/ or call 812-235-9717 for information on admission tickets, upcoming events, and membership.

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