Who Invented Cabbage Patch Dolls


Created in 1978, the Cabbage Patch Dolls were initially called the Little People. There were made from cloth and originally just sold at craft shows. There were later sold at a hospital in Georgia before becoming one of the longest running doll franchises in the United States. Cabbage Patch Dolls were one of the most popular toys of the 1980’s and everyone has to thank Xavier Roberts for their invention.

Riots almost formed during the Christmas season at the height of their popularity because people wanted these soft-sculpture dolls so badly. Here’s what you need to know about the inventor of this special line of dolls.

Just Who Is Xavier Roberts?

Roberts was born in 1955 and it was in his hometown where he got his first chance to sell Cabbage Patch Dolls to the general public. While growing up, he was intrigued by the folk art movements that were taking hold across the US and began thinking about the idea of making a quilted doll. He and a select group of friends then utilized the folk art movement to begin introducing what would be the Cabbage Patch Doll to the American public.

The rush was on starting in 1982 when Coleco Industries licensed his design to create a toy version of the Little People. People couldn’t get enough of the doll and hundreds of thousands of them flew off of store shelves as they were stocked for a number of years. The Cabbage Patch brand brought in billions of dollars over the 1980’s and to this day, Roberts is still involved with his idea by supervising animated movies.

There’s Controversy Around His Invention

While Xavier Roberts was out on the folk art tour, he met an artist named Martha Nelson Thomas and she was selling a similar product to what the Little People ended up being. According to documents she filed with the court, she started working on her doll design in 1971 and continued working on it over the years thanks to feedback from kids that she saw while out on the trade show tour. It is there, Thomas claimed, that Roberts took her idea and made it his copyright.

The marketing technique of adopting a doll from a cabbage patch was also hers, she claimed, but her lawsuit for $1 million was eventually dismissed because she had no copyright and there was no evidence that Roberts didn’t give her proper credit when applying for the initial patent. She is now given credit for inspiring the line of Cabbage Patch dolls and Roberts continues to create new dolls thanks to a new license with Toys R Us to sell products that are closer to his original design.

Did Xavier Roberts steal the idea? Was it his business savvy that created Cabbage Patch dolls instead of his creativity? The world may never really know the answer, but the fact remains that these soft sculpture dolls continue to be a hit with kids and adults alike.

Top Toys in 100 Years