The Original Material Girl: 10 Incredible Facts About The History Of Barbie

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Mattel’s pride and joy is none other than their legendary Plastic Queen Barbara Millicent Roberts or as we like to call her, Barbie. Named after the daughter of Mattel’s co-founders Ruth and Elliot Handler, the iconic Barbie doll is the epitome of blonde and glamorous child like wonder. Barbie was unveiled to the world on the 9th of March, 1959 at the New York Toy Fair and was an instant success. Fun fact: Ruth and Elliot also have a son named Kenneth! To learn more about the illustrious history of our favorite Material Girl, here are 10 coming your way! Enjoy.

Fact 1: Originating from Germany dating back to 1952, America’s most beloved doll found its inspiration from a high-rolling high-end call girl named Bild Lilli. A far cry from the American version; having a platinum blonde pony-tail with large breasts, darkly colored arched eyebrows, red lips, blue eye shadow and painted on shoes, Lilly was originally a comic-strip character that rose to fame and become immortalized in plastic. She was marketed towards adults and could be bought in tobacco stores, bars, and even adult-themed shops.

Fact 2: Barbie wasn’t always clad in her iconic Barbie pink color (it’s called Barbie Pink PMS 219 by the way, in case you were wondering). The very first doll came out with Barbie dressed in a black and white striped swim suit. She sold for 3 dollars, which is the equivalent of 23.97 dollars today.

Fact 3:
In 2004, trouble in paradise would not cease, and eventually Barbie and long time boyfriend Ken called their relationship quits. They had been together for 43 years. After her split with Ken, Barbie pursued a two-year relationship with an Australian surfer doll named Blaine. Flash forward to Valentine’s Day 2011, Barbie and Ken decide to get back together. (Mattel let the details spill on Barbie’s Facebook page. Yes, she has one).

Fact 4: Barbie’s resume is better than yours and mine put together. She’s had over 150 careers, including a business executive, McDonald’s cashier, a doctor, an Olympian athlete, an elementary school teacher, and has been an Astronaut not once, not twice, but three times! She’s been to the moon and back during 1965, 1986, and again in 1994.

Fact 5:
1992 marked the year for Mattel’s best selling Barbie doll, the “Totally Hair Barbie” which came with hair cascading down from her head to her toes. Her box came with brushes, hair accessories, and hair product. “Totally Hair Barbie” which came in either Blonde or Brunette has sales yet to be topped.

Fact 6: As prominent and powerful as Mattel is to the world, it isn’t strong enough to penetrate Saudi Arabia. Barbie dolls have been banned throughout the country because they claimed “Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West.”

Fact 7: The second best selling doll to date is the Holiday Barbie doll edition, which continues to top sales year after year, a close second to the legendary Totally Hair Barbie Doll. The Holiday Barbie comes in festive holiday-inspired ball gowns in gold, red, and white selections.

Fact 8: In 1965, Mattel released a “Slumber Party” Barbie that came with a “How to Lose Weight” Manual which had “Don’t Eat!” scribbled inside the book and a weighing scale permanently set to 110 pounds. The box also came with a Ken doll, which only came with milk and cookies-no scale. The controversial Barbie doll put the company under a lot of heat, but sales still continued to soar.

Fact 9: The very first batch of Barbie dolls were manufactured in Japan, with Japanese workers hand stitching each of the clothes Barbie had on. The workers took care of everything – from the clothes, right down to making sure each of Barbie’s hair styles were perfect and had zero fly-aways.

Fact 10:
Every two seconds, a Barbie doll is sold. That makes about 172,800 sold in a day. There are roughly 100,000 people who collect Barbie dolls. There are more Barbie dolls sold than babies born every year.

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