The Strange Cabbage Patch Craze

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Psychologists offer their usual blizzard of explanations. One theory is that the very homeliness of the dolls is appealing. "It is comforting," wrote Dr. Joyce Brothers, "to feel the Cabbage Patch doll can be loved with all your might—even though it isn't pretty." Still another theory emphasizes the doll's adoption ritual. The computers have given each doll a mellifluous name like Cornela Lenora or Clarissa Sadie, and each comes with its own birth certificate and adoption papers, ready to be signed. "Most children between the ages of six and twelve fantasize that they were really adopted," says Dr. Bruce Axelrod, director of Comprehensive Mental Health Services in Milwaukee. "A child who adopts a Cabbage Patch Kid can act out that fantasy."

Maybe such psychological explanations are mainly pseudo explanations. Maybe children want Cabbage Patch Kids because other children want them or because television says other children want them. Maybe they do not want them as much as parents want them. Or perhaps there are other reasons. A New York Times reporter in New Jersey saw five-year-old Eileen Napoli clutching a Cabbage Patch doll named Laura and dutifully asked the girl why she liked her doll. Said Eileen: "She has a real belly button.'' —By Otto Friedrich. Reported by Robert Carney/New York

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