I remember the Cabbage Patch riots very well. We had a niece that wanted one for Christmas and they were very hard to find. Luckily my wife worked in retail and had a friend who could get one. Once she got it she had to make sure it was wrapped in plain paper so no one would know what she had on her way home from work. People were actually getting robbed.
Cabbage Patch kids was the best known craze of the 1980’s. They were introduced in 1983 at the International Toy Fair in New York City. By the time October rolled around parents were already going nuts trying to get them for Christmas presents. The riots involved several customer outbursts that turned violent in a couple of retail stores in the US during the Christmas shopping season in 1983. The Cabbage Patch dolls went on sale and there was a big demand for the dolls. There were not enough released to keep up with the demand. Most stores had a limited quantity of the product and with thousands of people storming the stores trying to get one of the dolls a lot of customers fought with each other to get one.
There were violent customer clashes in some major retail stores like Macy’s. Sears and J.C. Penny. A few of the stores like KMART tried to control the crowds of customers but handing out tickets to the first few hundred in line for what dolls they had in stock. Of course, that left hundreds and in some case thousands very unhappy after waiting in line for hours with no chance to get a doll. Violence was reported including shoving, hitting with objects including baseball bats to try and get one of the dolls.
Coleco which was known mainly for its video game systems and games hit a home run with the dolls. When the video game industry experiencing a low in 1983 the dolls helped Coleco enjoy success the next few years. Almost 2 billion in sales was a result exclusively provided by the sales of Cabbage Patch dolls.