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Babyland

In the hinterlands of what might as well be Hazard County, lurks an evil that exists solely to corrupt the minds of very young children. It isn't moonshine, the local chapter of the KKK, or even an army of pederast "Uncles". They are known simply as the Children of the Cabbage.

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Beautiful babyland

Visit Babyland in Cleveland!

Anyone who was on the North American continent during the 1982 Christmas season would remember that year's "must-have" toys, the Cabage Patch Kids. No two of these puffy, steroid swollen tots was supposed be alike and each one shipped with a unique birth certificate attesting to that claim. Kids ate it up and parents literally came to blows over this Holy Toy Grail. By 1985, $600 million of the dolls were sold EACH YEAR into bondage by Corporate America.

Why all the fuss? Kids have gone ga-ga over the not-so-fun idea of child-rearing for millennia. What was so special about these bloated babies that made them catch on so quickly? Although sales of these dolls leveled off in recent years, the latest hair-chomping Chuckie-like incarnation still haunts toy stores everywhere.

In 1977 Xavier Roberts, a 21-year-old art student, started to hand-stitch a few radiation-warped life-sized dolls and sold them from an old medical clinic he dubbed 'Babyland General Hospital'. Originally called 'Little People', presumably after members of the midget community, the ragamuffins were renamed 'Cabbage Patch Kids' only after they were licensed by Coleco for mass distribution. Fortunately for those with money to burn, Xavier still independently manufactures his heftier hand-made versions, signing each of their tender buttocks himself. But the only way to 'adopt' one is to trek out to Babyland's Patch in Cleveland.

Georgia.

Located two hours north of Atlanta, this rural town features primo farmland, The World's Largest Afgan Store, a County Courthouse Museum, and a rampant kudzu infestation which appropriates abandoned buildings along the road leading into town. This Cleveland might not Rock, but people from around the world come here to bring a little one home without the muss of a bun in their own ovens.

Admission to Babyland is mercifully free and worth every penny. Part-time pseudo-nurses greet potential parents at the door with a smile. Weaving your way toward the Patch at the center of the nursery, you pass by a passel of little Kids awaiting a potential parent. Arranged in dioramas, some are at "school," others in the middle of a meal, and a large number sport USA Olympic Team uniforms. Every tyke has a name tag affixed to an appendage making the atmosphere more like a morgue than an orphanage. The most disturbing display is of the poor Preemie(tm) brand premature babies locked inside their incubators. Nothing like a lovable low birth weight baby to bring in the holiday cheer!

Rounding a final corner, you see a giant fake tree surrounded by a mound of misshapen baby heads poking out of "cabbages". A nurse announced that a new baby was due to emerge from Mother Cabbage shortly. When pressed for an exact time frame she told me, "When Mother Cabbage wills it." How realistic! It turned out that Mother Cabbage wills it whenever there's a big enough crowd, or a clever parent pays for their kids' doll to pop out during a ceremonial birth.

Kudzu house

Kudzu-encrusted house

World's Largest Gallery of Throwrugs
Good Ole Boy
Birth of a CPKid

County courthouse

One of the nurses enters the patch and begins prepping Mother Cabbage for her impending delivery. The nurse then explains the intricate reproductive system of cabbage to the assembled mass of tourists. Apparently, the ceramic Bunny Bees suspended overhead "fertilize the cabbage heads with magic crystals (christmas lights), determining whether the newborns will be boys or girls." Excuse me, but did I miss something in my High School sex education class about spewing love crystals, or have I been doing it wrong all these years?

After fiddling with a bizarre assortment of medical instruments including a large pair of forceps and a bubbling IV unit, the nurse yanks a limp baby out of the cabbage patch with the enthusiasm of a rural Dairy Queen employee serving a half-melted Blizzard. Holding the white, blonde, baby boy moppet aloft, she asks the oohing crowd for a first name. A kid in the back screams out, "Hayden!"

"All right then, Hayden is his first name," says Nursey with her thick southern accent. "Now I need a middle name."

Before anyone can react I blurt out, "Abdul!"

The nurse pauses, and stares at me, cracking her gum. "O.K. It's Hayden Abdul then." And that was that. Murmurs from the crowd sounded shocked at the name, ("How weird!" "Who would adopt a baby with a name like THAT?") either proving why the Stars and Bars still fly over Georgia, or that people just get freaked out over nothing. The nurse took Hayden Abdul to the nursery, put him in a diaper, fastened a new name tag to his breast, and placed him in the galley window to await adoption.

Adjacent to the patch are two offices decorated in a thirties industrial style. These are the 'adoption offices'. The nurse tells me this is where the new parents sign the papers and take an oath entrusting the child's care with them for life.

"Some of them just draw a big 'X' on the paper since they can't write," she adds.

Loitering by the office, I witness a swearing-in ceremony. It appeared as if the real parents were taking it a bit harder than the children. When asked by the 'Adoption Agent' what it felt like to be a new Grandmother, the visibly shaken mother protested, "I'm no Grandma! I'm not old enough!"

But she was $200 poorer. According to my inside source, fantasy can be very expensive, although it costs a bit less than an actual infant. "I'm not really a nurse either," she adds.

Me and CPKid
Dead Baby Statue

Babyland in Forest Lawn Memorial Park - Los Angeles

What is it about adults that would make several hundred of them stand outside a baseball stadium in Milwaukee for hours back in 1982 -just waiting for the rare dolls to be air-dropped to them? A mischievous radio DJ told his listeners they could get a doll from a passing cargo jet if they simply held their credit cards up to be photographed by the jet's crew. Duh.

Children don't really need the extra fantastic trappings to be satisfied. It's just that those darned, media-saturated grown-ups do. Corporations know that by pandering to simple adult hype and fantasy, the money will follow. Over the Internet you can even "re-adopt" a collectible CPK ensuring it's life of plastic slavery.

There is another Babyland over in Glendale, California. A large black statue of a misshapen baby marks the site of an infant burial ground in Forest Lawn Memorial Park. For a second, you can imagine that beneath the markers rest the remains of the 100 million or so cabbageites, finally free from their bonds of servitude. Hayden Abdul could finally fly with his father Bunny Bees among the stars .

But in reality they're just dead babies.

MATT PATTERSON is a part time Bunny Bee himself.


The Cabbage Patch
Re-Adopt a previously owned CPKid from the convenience of the Internet Learn about butt signatures and head mold identification information! This site is filled with lovely minutia an Adult could love.

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