Barbie™ gives a new meaning to the saying’ “You’ve come a long way baby.” 2008 marks 49 years since her first public showing at the New York Toy Fair. The Barbie™ doll has delighted children and collectors for many years. There are young and old Barbie™ fans not just in our country, but all over the world. So who is responsible for such an infamous doll?
Let’s take a little Journey back to the year 1945!
Out of a small, garage, work shop in California, a business called Mattel was born. It was co-owned by Harold Matson, Elliott Handler and Elliot’s wife Ruth and they were in the business of making wood frames. Later on they started making doll furniture, using the leftover sources from the frames. Unfortunately, a year later Matson became ill. He was forced to sell out his part of the business to Elliot and Ruth, but the name still remained Mattel.
As the doll furniture became more and more lucrative, the Handlers decided to concentrate their efforts on making children’s toys. They would even study their own children’s likes and dislikes for new toy ideas. One day, Ruth took notice that her daughter Barbara no longer seemed interested in playing the ‘mommy” role to her baby dolls. Instead, Barbara was preoccupied with playing with her much more glamorous paper dolls. Pretending to be a fun and exciting young adult and playing dress up was very enjoyable to her. Ruth knew she had something to work on here, but what?
In 1956 while on visit to Switzerland, Ruth came across the Lilli Bild doll. Sold in cigar shops as a sort of joke toy for adults, this 11-inch doll seemed to be the answer to what she had been trying to put together for her daughter. Realizing the possibilities, she brought some Lilli dolls to her product developers and engineer Jack Ryan in California to see what they could come up with. By 1958, the teenage fashion doll Barbie™ was patented.
Barbie™ was introduced to the public March 9, 1959 and she was named after Ruth’s daughter. In the beginning, the public response was not very good. Many thought the Barbie™ doll was too risqué-looking for little girls to play with. By the following year, that had all changed. Barbie’s™ popularity was growing at such a rapid rate, that it took Mattel a couple of years to catch up to the high demand.
Since then, Barbie™ has become a household name. Mattel works hard to keep Barbie™ fun by keeping her current with all the new fashion trends and lifestyles. Mattel is in competition daily with other doll competitors, but we all know that there will only be one Barbie™ Doll.