Not the sweet dessert that’s on everyone’s radar starting every June, but the little pink illustration that became an animated television show and merchandise winner in 1980: Strawberry Shortcake.
Created by illustrator Muriel Fahrion in 1977, Strawberry Shortcake and her wee cat Custard were conceived for greeting cards for American Greeting. After its success as a card, Fahrion created an assortment of friends for Strawberry Shortcake and later created the first prototype of the doll.
Strawberry Shortcake and her friends were all related to fruit and desserts, with the doll scented strawberry. In 1980, the doll became a syndicated half hour animated series, pushing Strawberry Shortcake into everyone’s household.
The sweet-scented doll was soon joined by her friends Raspberry Tart, Huckleberry Pie, Apple Dumplin’, Plum Puddin’ and her on-screen nemesis, The Peculiar Purple Pie Man. For children under the age of six, this sweet fruity world was awash in intrigue, danger, and of course, many dolls, accessories, a video game, posters, and all kinds of things to decorate a child’s bedroom.
From the carousel to the berry-shaped carrying case, to the Berry Bake Shoppe, gazebo, Berry home and of course the Oatsmobile, Strawberry and her gang of fruity friends had many accessories to entice children to create an entire town. In the early 1980s, new toys released on to the market were snatched up quickly, with young children across North American clamouring for all things Strawberry Shortcake.
I was too old for the obsession of Strawberry Shortcake, but saw my friend’s younger siblings whirl into the world of Strawberry and her sickly-sweet scented friends as they toted the dolls with them and displayed in their rooms. And when you’re a bored teenager, you will watch almost anything if its on tv – especially if you have the remote control poised to flip the channel to see if there may be anything else to watch.
Strawberry Shortcake has remained a fixture in the young children’s toy section – and her sweet-scented self and friends still bring a smile to any reatiler’s face – and probably the face of young kids whose adoration happens, even if only for a few years.