Xavier Roberts’ signature is more famous than the name it stands for. His cursive autograph rests on the foot of every Cabbage Patch Kid. In the 1980’s, parents rioted to get the latest must-have Christmas gift. Off the success of the unrivaled phenomenon, Roberts racked in a fortune. The women who conceived the idea made nothing.
Outside of tales of following an enchanted BunnyBee to a vegetable patch, Roberts was never candid about the dolls’ origin. He consistently opined that the toys were tokens in honor of the quilted dolls his mother used. This story was a concocted public relations stunt. The truth is simpler. He bought one of Martha Nelson Thomas’ Doll Babies at a craft show.
Many traits later found in Cabbage Patch Kids originated in Doll Babies, like the shriveled infant face or accompanying adoption papers and information sheets listing their interests. Thomas treated her dolls as people with individual personalities. They could not be besmirched with any insignia, even a copyright symbol. Roberts had no similar qualm.
Thomas eventually sued Roberts for intellectual property theft. Thomas cared little about the undisclosed amount of money earned in the settlement. She just wanted Roberts to admit that she was the toy’s true creator. Begrudgingly, he confessed the truth.