Barbie Dolls: Where Did They Come From?

Dear Santa Claus, Can I get a Barbie doll for Christmas? Barbie has been a household name for a considerable amount of time. There have probably been several generations of girls who have included Barbie dolls on their Christmas wish lists. Who was the first to come up with the idea for the Barbie doll?

Ruth Mosko was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1916, and the story begins there. Ruth got married to Elliot Handler in 1938. Mattel was founded in 1939 by Elliot Handler and Harold “Matt” Matson. The name was created by combining their first names, “Matt-Ell.” Mattel began as a picture frame manufacturer. Nonetheless, after experimenting with repurposing scraps to make doll furniture, the company shifted its focus to producing toys, for which it is now best known.

Ruth Handler observed that her young daughter Barbara was more interested in playing with adult dolls than the baby dolls that were available then. Barbara’s interest in playing with adult dolls began when Ruth was still a child. While traveling through Europe, she came across a German doll known as “Lilli,” which she subsequently purchased for her daughter. The first “Lilli” doll was not intended for children but served as a gag present for adult males.

Mattel has acquired the marketing rights for the character ‘Lilli.’ They decided to rebrand the doll as Barbie after Ruth’s daughter Barbara gave the doll her name. In 1959, when she was first made available for purchase, Barbie quickly became one of the most popular toys in the United States. The name “Ken” was given to the male companion Barbie in 1960. Kenneth, Ruth’s firstborn child, inspired Ken’s naming.

The first time the Barbie doll appeared was on March 9, 1959, at the New York International American Toy Fair. This day is now considered to be Barbie’s actual birthday. There is now a fictional biography of the life of “Barbie,” with additional members of “Barbie’s” family and friends being sculpted into doll form and sold separately.

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