Overpopulation of cuteness.
Overpopulation of cuteness.

Cabbage Patch Fantasy Land

Field review by the editors.

Griswold, Iowa

Donna Brown says she's never turned away a Cabbage Patch Kid. She's found orphan Kids stuffed into bags, hanging from her mailbox and her front doorknob. Combined with her own Cabbage Patch collection, it created a Kid population explosion in her house -- which spilled over into one additional trailer home, then another. In 2006 Donna and her husband Clyde built the Cabbage Patch Fantasy Land museum building, but it took three years before it opened. It took that long to squeeze her Kids inside.

One-of-a-kind blanket with Donna, her daughter and granddaughter, sitting in a giant cabbage.
One-of-a-kind blanket with Donna, her daughter and granddaughter, sitting in a giant cabbage.

"I'd wake up at night and figure out how I was gonna arrange it," said Donna. "My husband told me, 'It's gonna be big enough.' But it wasn't big enough.

"I still got Cabbage Patch in the house," said Donna, "and my museum's full."

Cabbage Patch Kids, with their chubby cheeks and give-me-a-hug arms, were the first toy to cause stampedes and fistfights among product-crazed shoppers. A Cabbage Patch Kid flew into orbit on the Space Shuttle in 1985. Cabbage Patch Kids were the official mascot of the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic teams. In 1999 the American public voted the Kids onto an official U.S. postage stamp, representing 1980s pop culture along with The Cosby Show and break dancing.

Upside-down globe suggests the topsy-turvy world of this Cabbage Patch dream classroom.
Upside-down globe suggests the topsy-turvy world of this Cabbage Patch dream classroom.

Isolated in a real baby incubator. Pox Kids look like they have measles: a weird factory blunder.
Isolated in a real baby incubator. Pox Kids look like they have measles: a weird factory blunder.

The passion for Cabbage Patch eventually faded among most fans, but not Donna. She scoured thrift stores and flea markets, gradually amassing a collection that today is unrivaled. The Kids in her museum vastly outnumber the people in her Iowa town. Cabbage Patch claims that no two Kids are alike, but Donna has so many that she actually has duplicates. "If it says 'Cabbage Patch,' I get it, even though I still might have it," Donna explained. "That's why I got so much!"

And it's not just the Kids. Cabbage Patch spinoff creatures include Bunnybees, Furskins, Patch Puppies, and the half-Kid, half-animal "Koosas" that look like refugees from The Island of Dr. Moreau. Donna even has Taro Kids, an obscure Cabbage Patch ripoff made in the Philippines. The Space Shuttle flight spawned the "Young Astronauts" Kids in 1986; ten years later the voracious Snacktime Kids had to be pulled off store shelves because they also ate children's hair and fingers.

Special
Special "Young Astronauts" Kids went on sale soon after a Kid flew in the Space Shuttle.

We asked Donna about the "Cabbage Patch Pox" Kids inside the baby incubator in her hospital nursery display. She explained that they were an unplanned mutation of the Cabbage Patch, sporting measles-like deformities that some said came from mixing too much baby powder with the vinyl in the Kids' heads. Donna at first was leery of Pox Kids, thinking they were moldy; now they're rare collectibles, and Donna wishes she had more.

Licensed through a half-dozen companies, the Kids have been worked relentlessly over the years by the toy industry, which has slapped the Cabbage Patch brand onto anything it thought would sell: diapers, watches, board games, bassinets, lunch boxes, sing-along cassette tapes, fabric bolts, desktop phones. "I'd like to have one of everything," Donna said, "but I can't get everything because no one knows what everything is."

You'd never know that by visiting Donna's museum, which overwhelms with its abundance: a lush Cabbage Patch in America's breadbasket. "I've had people come back three or four times; they miss a lot," said Donna. "I get people who plan their vacations to come here. They'll say, 'I had one of these when I was little,' or 'I remember my mom fighting to get me one.'"

Despite Donna's steady flow of Kid orphans and Kid gifts from friends and family, her 30+ years of Cabbage Patch collecting has slowed since she's now retired and on a fixed income. We asked her, What if someone offered you $1,000 for a Space Shuttle Kid? Or $5,000? "I wouldn't sell it," Donna answered. "I tell people right away, 'Nothing's for sale.' Someday, somebody will have to sell it. But not as long as I'm here."

Also see: Babyland General Hospital

Cabbage Patch Fantasy Land

Cabbage Patch Museum

Address:
69868 590th St., Griswold, IA
Directions:
From Hwy 92 turn south onto 590th St. (Look for the Cabbage Patch Museum sign). Drive about a mile. It will be on your left. If you cross Upland Rd you've driven too far.
Hours:
W-Su 9-5, or by appt. Closed in winter. (Call to verify)
Phone:
712-778-4244
Admission:
Free, donations appreciated.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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