I certainly remember my sister owning a Strawberry Shortcake doll, but I didn’t realise that, like the Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake started off as a range of greetings cards from American Greetings. The characters were introduced as cards in 1977, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s when the toy range really made it’s mark, spawning other merchandise such as comic books, videogames and the inevitable cartoon series.
The unique selling point of the Strawberry Shortcake dolls was that they were scented to match the desert or fruit after which they were named. Each doll also came with a small plastic pet, with Strawberry Shortcake’s being Custard the Cat. For some reason the advertising jingle sticks in my head on this point, it went something like:-
It’s Strawberry Shortcake in her floppy hat.
Strawberry Shortcake and Custard the Cat.
As already mentioned Ms. Shortcake was joined by friends such as Apple Dumplin’, Raspberry Tart and Lemon Meringue. With names like that most of the toys were female, although there was the odd male character thrown in as well. The advent of the cartoon series meant that Strawberry Shortcake required a nemesis to go up against, which ended up being the tongue twistingly named Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak! He too came with a pet – Captain Cackle the Berry Bird.Whilst researching this post I was surprised to find that not only is Strawberry Shortcake still available, the character has also been through two major design revamps. In 1991 toy manufacturer THQ relaunched a range of six dolls, but these only lasted for a year or so before disappearing from our shops.
A more successful makeover occured in 2002 by Bandai which is still available today and has led to further cartoon movies, books, videogames and probably much more. This revamp made the characters look more like normal girls, dressed in jeans and T-shirts rather than frilly dresses and stripy tights, which seems a bit of a shame to me as the dolls have lost most of their distinctive look. Oh well, times change I guess, and it’s obviously worked for the toys to be selling.