Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Today's Toy Lunch

Last night while flipping through a friend's copy of the American Girl catalog, I was surprised to find that in addition to its usual updates (omg who's that? are those Uggs?? is that headgear???) the company is also now offering an accessory called the Allergy-Free Lunch. Which is a little vague but seems to cover peanut, egg, shellfish, and gluten allergies, although it's not entirely clear what's on the "sandwich skewers." Chicken? Tofu?

The complete Allergy-Free Lunch comes with food — a "pretend berry smoothie, container of vegetables," and the above-mentioned skewers (better pics here) — as well as "a medical bracelet and allergy stickers to keep her safe while she snacks; a faux allergy shot, just in case; and a fabric lunch bag to hold it all." It costs $28 and currently has a five-star average rating on the American Girl site. I think I had intended to sort of make fun of this, but then the stories within the reviews, about kids with allergies "finally" having fake food to play with that isn't the type that makes them sick in real life, are actually pretty nice — although I'd agree with user mommytokiddo, whose daughter bought it after saving her allowance, that "I don't know if I would have spent that much on this set," and with user 2daughters that the bag should have "a cute strap to go over her shoulder." 

But the Allergy-Free Lunch also reminds me of the time in first grade when a classmate with diabetes gave us all copies of this kid-friendly book about diabetes and food. One of the book's main messages — the one she wanted to emphasize — was that we shouldn't offer food as "up for grabs" at lunchtime, because she found it too tempting, and would then eat it and get sick. Unsurprisingly, this book had the opposite effect on how frequently foods were offered up for grabs at lunch, because kids are mean. And I still am, I guess, because I'm now imagining some little girl telling another that "my doll can't eat gluten," and I'm wishing that they'd also make miniature lunches of peanut-butter and shrimpy egg-salad sandwiches that come with one (1) extra peanut-butter and shrimpy egg-salad sandwich, because everyone should be able to have a miniature, inedible version of the lunch of their choice for under $30.

I think I've just tried to make fun of that girl with diabetes from elementary school again, which is ... I'm not sure what it is, but in any case I was jealous of her because my best friend liked her more than she liked me, and she had a pretty singing voice and got the parts in the school plays that I wanted.

But also when my parents were divorcing, even though this girl and I were technically enemies, she brought a wooden box filled with hair ties and barrettes to school one day, and gave it to me without saying anything, because her parents were also divorced, and I think at the time she was the only other one in our class.

72 Comments / Post A Comment


That Stacey McGill has a lot to answer for.


im your number one fan@y


I personally find the doll-avatar concept pretty weird! I always thought the idea of dolls was that you pretended they were other people, not yourself.

Instead of a doll lunch, I'd give an allergic kid Sandra Beasley's poem Allergy Girl.



No kidding!

But then, my dolls ate food made out of play-doh, sometimes served in an acorn cup, rather than expensive plastic nonsense, so perhaps what we're dealing with here are a lot of intensely unimaginative children.


@City_Dater I think we might also be dealing with some intensely unimaginative parents, too. I suspect the little girl who spent her own money is an outlier.

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@cuminafterall I had a < ahref="http://www.thisoldtoy.com/new-images/images-ok/200-299/fp212-bcassity.jpg">My Friend Jenny doll when I was little, and I thought it was awesome because my name was Jenny and she had brown eyes and long, straight, brown hair with bangs just like me. But coming across a random generic doll that looks like you and buying it seems entirely different than getting a little mini-me on purpose.

Lily Rowan

Fuck, I am still so jealous of kids who were the right age and socio-economic status for these dolls! I could look at the website/catalog ALL DAY LONG.


@Lily Rowan I'm still a bit jealous too and I *had* one of them. My grandma got me one of the modern dolls that looked like me when I was 10. And I loved my doll and the handful of outfits I got for her, but about 10 minutes after I got it, I realised that the historical clothes were WAY COOLER. And I never got any of it! Because my parents sure as hell weren't gonna pay for the fancy furniture and clothes, no matter how much I wanted it. I still flip through the catalog occasionally and daydream about all the cool stuff I could get for my doll now.

It's never too late. Surely.


@daisicles Get the stuff! I'd give you my daughter's doppelgänger doll, which her grandma gave her for her 6th birthday, but we've long since given it to Goodwill.

My favorite thing about that doll was that my daughter named it "American."


"even though this girl and I were technically enemies"

This is so evocative I may never escape.


Wait, what happend to Kirsten and Samantha and the red-headed colonial girl??? Kirsten and Samantha (and Molly, who's still there) were, like, the central characters. They can't be gone!!!

Lustful Cockmonster

@yunkstahn seriously! They were the first three! How do you just ditch them like that?


@yunkstahn Felicity! The redhead was Felicity! I had a Kirsten doll, because she was the only one that was blonde, like me.


@yunkstahn I have a Felicity in my attic! They appear to have retooled her clothes in different colors for Caroline Abbott.


@kingstitcher I had a Kirsten book, and my friend had a Samantha doll, but I don't think I ever had one of the actual dolls?


What?! The only original dolls left are Addy and Josephina??!! That makes me kind of irrationally sad. Also though, the fake food is absolutely one of the best things about AG dolls. Remember all of the petit-fours and plastic peppermint ice cream sundaes from Samantha's birthday party?! So pretty!


@Elleohelle My B- they still make Molly, but now they also make her British friend, Emily? That's not the way this works!

Lustful Cockmonster

HOLD.UP they don't even MAKE Kirsten and Samantha anymore? What, they weren't good enough? The injustice! And if my little sisters hadn't written on my Kirsten with permanent marker she'd be a collectible? Dang.


@Lustful Cockmonster And that new doll's hair looks awful!

Lustful Cockmonster

@franceschances Oh man, American Girl doll hair. In the catalog Kirsten's hair is down and "flowing" when she's in her nightgown, and since I had the matching for me version of the nightgown (yep...) that is what I wanted her to wear all the time. Let me tell you, I could NEVER get her hair back in the beautiful braids and I was PISSED. I wrote a letter to the company crying false adverstising. So yeah, not so much with American Girl doll hair.


@Lustful Cockmonster ahaha i took the hair down on my Felicity doll, and afterwards it would never stay in that pretty low ponytail (much like my own). I had all the doll hair accessories, too, and I still couldn't get it to stay up. So frustrating.


@Lustful Cockmonster Yeah, I had Kirsten too, and took her hair out and I liked it but the braids never look quite as good again. Even though my mom was a good braider. BUT now you can take them to the American Girl place (if you are in one of 14 US major metropolitan areas) and they will do their hair for you! And it looks just like it did before!
Oh and here is the link to the "archived" historical American girls: http://www.americangirl.com/archives/hc.php

Baby Fish Mouth

@bocadelperro I played beauty salon with my Felicity doll and washed her hair. It became super frizzy and was never the same. I don't think they introduced the doll hospital, or at least it wasn't as well publicized, until after I had stopped regularly playing with her so it wasn't quite worth it.


@Punk-assBookJockey You guyyyyys I did the same thing with my Kirsten doll because of the nightgown picture (and when she was celebrating some kind of Saint-based Swedish holiday??) and had the same trouble as you. Where were you in 1993, when we could have commiserated??


"a friend's copy" suuuuure Edith, suuuure.

Edith Zimmerman

@stuffisthings :-/

Katie Heaney

Aw. I always wanted to buy the fake food. The fake food was the best part. They had this white rectangle birthday cake ... Anyway I never bought it, it cost too much. But my babysitter had Molly (like everyone, or else Samantha), and let me use that paper bag lunch sometimes. Which was ok, if not historically accurate for Felicity. But HEADGEAR! I feel *represented.*


@Katie Heaney I had Samantha, but none of the food. Even though the food was so alluring it was probably a significant portion of my desire for Samantha at all. My grandmother did make lots of doll clothes for me, though!


@Katie Heaney I bought historically accurate clothes for my Felicity, then some modern ones (including camping gear with a cooler... and fake food! I didn't realize how expensive it all was back then, but wow, I'm impressed with my relatives now). Also, Josefina's birthday dress circa 1996-7, because it was gorgeous.

Unrelated: I once posed my kitten with Felicity's bonnet and Josefina's lace fan. Absolutely priceless pictures.


Who makes their child 'skewers' of ANYTHING for lunch?? This is so f-ing weird; it's like a lunch for a suburban adult who doesn't actually like food. Berry smoothies for elementary school lunch? Ughghghgh.


@rabbitrabbit Right? They don't even fit in the sack.


@rabbitrabbit I'm pretty sure that lunch also violates many schools' zero-tolerance weapons policies!


@rabbitrabbit AND those beige things would DEFINITELY have gluten in real life. JUSSAYIN.

Pound of Salt

Shrimpy egg salad ew


Does anyone think the new doll looks like the princess from Tangled? There's a new historical doll from New Orleans too - Princess and the Frog?!

Anyway, I'm mainly pissed because I doubt any little adventurer running around in 1812 would have time for medieval princess hair. Tuck that up under your cap, girl!


Also on that page: hearing aids. <3


Can we talk about how they gave Kaya an absolutely mortifying outfit??? And how they still haven't really figured out Black doll hair?
Shit, I was so pleased to have that Josefina doll, though.


"...But, she's excited for Halloween because she's going to be an Indian, and Tatlo's an Indian dog, so he might go with her to school for her Halloween party, and she wants to take him trick-or-treating."


It tickles me that the allergy free lunch is under the heading Interests and Activities. "My hobbies include avoiding gluten and shellfish..."

(Also: A chalet? A CHALET? Are you kidding me with this? Your doll needs a place to sit while you put her skis on?!) (Skis sold separately)


@TheLetterL My niece has the skis. And a pair of crutches. She seems to use the ski poles and crutches interchangeably


haha! I had to wear that headgear when I was 13; it hooked into the rings in your braces and pushed your teeth back while you slept. Expect to cry yourself to sleep the first two nights.
I wore it to school on 8th grade Pajama Day and was surprisingly impervious to insults*.
*Insults specifically directed at the headgear, that is.


That girl from your class was more generous and empathetic in grade school than I am now. That would never occur to me.


I'll admit that I had a "looks like me" doll when I was younger (although I also admit that even at the age of 9 or whatever I knew there was only a passing resemblance), and I may or may not have cajoled my parents into getting the tiny violin for her. Ughhhhh the things I did as a child, how can I right these selfish wrongs.


@frigwiggin Was it the world's smallest violin?


@frigwiggin I had that tiny expensive violin too! And the chin rest thing fell of all the time. I don't think I had ever even heard a violin.

fondue with cheddar

@stuffisthings *rubs fingertips together*


@frigwiggin My mom didn't buy the real violin, but she found some kind of violin Christmas ornament or something at the dollar store that was the right size and got me that. As a kid I'm pretty sure I hated it (because my cousin had the real one and I was jealous) but it's just one more thing that grown-up KeLynn loves about her mom.


I am very old.

As soon as Mattel took over the franchise, they started making changes: de-emphasizing the historical dolls, playing up the new and cool clothing and the mini-me dolls (with their attendant consumerist mentality), and just in general debasing the quality of the fabric and materials used to make everything.

While I appreciate the nod towards diversity and AMERICA NOW that AG has become, I think that the original idea of the franchise was to provide young women with strong historical role models and to encourage engagement with American history, but since 1998 the brand has basically just been a yuppie privilege-measuring stick.

I am very, very old.

Roxy Throatpunch

@pharmakeus My sister does this same rant - which is ALL TRUE and super annoying. But she is my little sister, and if you guys are old, what does that make me??

But yes, this. My history-geek/social studies teacher of a little sister gives full credit to American Girls (OF THE LATE 80s AND EARLY 90s) for jump-starting her love of all things history.


@Roxy Throatpunch I'm a history professor, and I'm in the same camp as your friend. I read all the books, and I still have my Felicity doll, (in Addy's trunk, because Felicity didn't have one at the time, and Addy's trunk looked very colonial to me) tucked away at the top of my closet, with all her clothes wrapped in parchment paper, and all the doll furniture in boxes. I did the packing at 14, and I was never that meticulous with any of my other toys. It pretty much hit me then how formative that whole series was for me. (In fact, I decided to go to college in Virginia, despite being from CA and having visited VA only twice, and I'm pretty sure that Felicity had some subconscious influence on my decision)

I seriously owe Pleasant T. Rowland (and my parents!) a huge thank-you.


@pharmakeus You know, it's funny. I was trying to put my finger on why the current dolls were bugging me so much, and this is it, exactly. I am also, apparently, old.

cecil hungry

@bocadelperro I'm pretty sure my obsession with and subsequent application to William & Mary had a lot to do with Felicity. I owned Samantha and loved her, but I always felt more affinity to Felicity and Revolutionary War VA. I LOVED Williamsburg. Of course I got rejected and ended up at another, slightly younger but arguably more patriotic, VA school... And yes, the Mattel stuff is crap.


@pharmakeus My entire knowledge of the Industrial Revolution is effectively rooted in the Samantha books. I distinctly remember learning about child labor because of those books, and asking my mom if girls my age really had to work in factories. Not to take away from kids learning about allergies, but there's something missing in this new crew.

Daisy Razor

My mother bought me an original flavor American Girl doll (Samantha, I think?) and, because I had no concept of value or collectibility, I promptly cut off her hair and painted her face green. I was a terrible child.

Anyway. My daughter has celiac disease, and while it's kind of a raw deal (like when her friends get donut holes & she's stuck with peanut butter & GF toast) it's certainly not the worst thing that could have happened to her. She definitely doesn't need $30 fake food to make her feel better.


This post is pretty much exactly why I love reading here.


I've heard of American Girls, but don't know what they are. So old. So childless.


I was maybe too old, and probably also too socioeconomically low for American Girl dolls, so after reading all the nostalgia for them in this thread, I took a look at their website. And Hairpinners, I can't believe that in 2012, the token Asian doll doesn't even get her own page! She's "the best friend" of some pretty blonde doll. Basically, zero progress since when I was a little girl. Even gluten allergy sufferers get their own doll! Ugh I just hope my niece continues to prefer trucks and trains instead of overpriced dollshit.


@karenology I was angry about that, too!

cecil hungry

@karenology I would actually argue that they are more progressive than they used to be. The original 3-4 dolls were ALL white with white friends (Samantha, Molly, Felicity, Kirsten). But then the next set they added were all non-white (Addy, Black; Josefina, Hispanic; Kaya, First Nations). And then they added some more white dolls, presumably to appease their mainly white upperclass clientele, when they retired the white originals, but they DID give them non-white friends, which is at least a step. I would hope that the next doll might be Asian, but who knows.

And gluten-sufferers don't get their own doll, they get an accessory for their modern, make-your-own, lookalike doll, which I believe you can get in a huge variety of color/ethnicity.

I think AG's a little better than you're painting it right now, but I admit that could be my white privilege talking.


@cecil hungry I could have sworn that at one point they had a character from SF's chinatown in the 1920/30s, but perhaps I'm combining two childrens' book series, as I see no sign of her on the website. Which is a shame, really, because books centered around that time/community have the potential to be awesome, and early 20th century Chinese-American doll and accessories would be really cool. (mattel, call me)


If it's truly an allergy-free lunch, there can't be tofu because that's one of the top 8 allergens. <---newly allergic to soy

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That bread better be crumbly and dense and bound together by xantham gum, just like mine!!!


I may or may not have cajoled my parents into getting the tiny violin for her. Ughhhhh the things I did as a child, how can I right these selfish wrongs.
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I knew there was only a passing resemblance), and I may or may not have cajoled my parents into getting the tiny violin for her. Ughhhhh the things I did as a child, how can I right these selfish wrongs.
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Nayab Atif@facebook

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