Berry Disturbing Makeover for Strawberry ShortcakeS

As a grown woman who had every intention of dressing as Strawberry Shortcake for Halloween (my boyfriend was going to be the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak), I am furious at American Greetings Properties' decision to give Shortcake a "fruit-forward" makeover. As part of a growing toy-industry trend (Care Bears are getting slimmed down; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be more pumped, less aggro), vintage brands are being reworked to appeal to the kids, while still playing on young parents' nostalgia. In the case of Shortcake (who's getting a new TV show and a computer-animated movie), the emphasis is less on sugar, more on fresh fruit. Says a company rep, "We're downplaying characters that were part of Strawberry's world but who didn't immediately shout out fruit." The new Shortcake also rocks a more streamlined look and talks on a cellphone all the time.

What I find bizarre about all this is the implicit assumption that kids can't relate to a character who's not exactly like themselves. Strawberry Shortcake wasn't popular twenty years ago because we all wore bloomers and lolled around in a berry patch; it was cute and fun and the dolls smelled good. This kind of formulaic thinking presupposes a narcissism that, ironically, agendas like these seem to create. More importantly, if they "downplay" Apple Dumplin' I will be seriously displeased.

Beloved Characters as Reimagined for the 21st Century [New York Times]