Why Strawberry Shortcake Was A Progressive Pioneer

On the occasion of Shortcake's 30th birthday, Jeanne Sager over at CafeMom makes a strong case for the sweetly-scented patch-dweller as a champion of diversity.

Writes Sager of the Berry Patch gang, "Looking back now, I'm pleased to see they offered options to girls who weren't blond-haired, blue-eyed children faced with the typical '80s toys. Strawberry was a redhead! Orange Blossom was a girl of color! In the '80s!" A new, 30th anniversary set features Shortcake, Orange Blossom and the oddly-named Raspberry Tart — all apparently still sixish and in their original getups.

In a time when Shortcake risks a tween makeover, it's nice to pay homage to the original incarnation. Strawberry Shortcake was one of the many 80s toys denied me by my mother for reasons that ranged from the principled (Shortcake: too commercial) to the arbitrary (Cabbage Patch Dolls: too ugly.) So she's always retained an aura of forbidden glamor, and the perfume of her plastic flesh to this day remains the smell of the illicit. I came to her cartoon as an adult was indeed struck not just by the diversity of the gang, but by the cleverness of the writing and the coolness of the trippy music. What my mom considered a bad influence is downright wholesome, stressing qualities of politeness, honesty and kindness.

Of course, from a contemporary perspective, not everything holds up: the Pie Man, a sinister adult menacing little girls, is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

Strawberry Shortcake: A Stereotype Buster 30 Years Ago?
[CafeMom]