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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Cherry Merry Muffin

RagingMoon1987 back with Throwback Thursday, and this doll is about as different from last week's doll as night is from day.  Is it just me, or did the eighties and early nineties have a fascination with sweet-smelling, brightly colored dolls themed around baked goods and visual effects?  Rainbow Brite and Jem focused heavily on the visual side of things, while for those who loved junk food there was the Strawberry Shortcake linethe Cupcakes line, and this doll, Cherry Merry Muffin.
This is my original second-wave Cherry Merry Muffin doll, believe it or not.  Why I got rid of my MLP collection and my old Cupcakes doll but kept this one, I'll never know.  I do know though that this was what I desperately wanted for Christmas back in...oh, the year had to have been 1989, because that was the year that this particular doll was available.  I was two then, still an only child, and I didn't play with dolls much at all, but the cute commercial and the promise of a cherry-scented doll won my toddler heart.  When asked what I wanted for Christmas that year, my response was prompt:  "I wanna Cherry Merry Muffin doll!"  Obviously I ended up with my doll, and nearly three decades later, I still have her!  I even yanked her out of the throw-away pile one time, loudly insisting that she stay even though her hair was matted and her clothes were dusty.

The best thing about digging around for information about an old doll is that you discover all sorts of neat stuff that you didn't know beforehand.  When I started doing research for this post I thought that Cherry Merry Muffin was just a cute little one-off.  Wrong answer.  Lose all your money, go directly to jail.  I loved the commercial when I was a little kid, but I obviously didn't remember all of it or I would've remembered that Cherry enjoyed several waves, and each wave had a different theme with new friends.  My doll dates from the cake-themed second wave, which was released in 1989.  Anywho, Cherry was very much like both Strawberry Shortcake and the Cupcakes in that she was cute little doll that...well, she didn't really do anything.  She just looked cute and smelled nice.  My doll has most of her pieces, though she's missing her comb...and maybe some underpants???  I can't remember what this doll had on underneath, or even if she had anything.  She's got everything else though, including this hat.
The hat is a large pink and white cupcake-shaped piece of plastic.  The presence of a cupcake-shaped hat on a muffin-themed doll threw me for a loop until I remembered this doll came from a wave that had a cake theme.  Lemme see...I typed that...'bout five minutes ago???  How quickly I forget, and how strange that I can remember a conversation I had twenty-eight years ago, but can't remember what I just typed!  Anyway, the hat was once held on with a strand of elastic (the nice kind, the kind that was wrapped in thread), but the elastic gave out long ago so I cut a ribbon off a balloon and tied the hat to Cherry's head that way.
Yep, that piece of ribbon is around twenty-five years old!  When I was a little kid I was an expert jerry-rigger; when I needed something tied together, I used bits of ribbon and dental floss.  It worked very well at the time, but it looks a little silly now, with that ribbon being orange instead of pink.  Easy fix!  Anyway, according to the box this hat could double as a bracelet for the kid that owned the doll.  Since I was two when I got the doll I didn't see that part, nor did the idea of using the hat as a bracelet ever occur to me.  It would've made a cumbersome bracelet anyway, seeing as it's about two inches tall from brim to stem.
The brim is unpainted and molded to look like a fluted cupcake wrapper.  The upper part is painted pink with white molded/painted icing, pink sprinkles, and a big cherry on top!
The paint job has stood up fairly well to the test of time.  It's rubbed a little thin in places but overall it's in good shape.

Underneath the hat Cherry has a head full of waist-length blonde hair.  It's much thicker than the hair of her fellow baked good, Lime Chiffon.
Needless to say I had to give Cherry a hair wash before this review.  Like both Lime Chiffon and my Cupcakes doll Beri Blue, Cherry still had vestiges of her original scent before I washed her.  Now she smells softly of Dawn and conditioner, which is nice enough, but I think I preferred her smelling faintly of cherries.  The hair bounced back very well, though.  I'll have to give Cherry a longer stay in THE PLASTIC BAG OF DOOM before I'm fully satisfied, but this will do for now.  As to the overall look, Cherry's hair is thick and is done up in crimps that were so popular during the late eighties and early nineties.  She originally came with the front portion tied up, so I redid that.
In the front she's got a full set of curved bangs.
Very simple, kid-friendly hair.  Short but thick, easy to play with and easy to wash.  It tangles easily, but the short style makes it a snap to comb out.

Cherry has an expression similar to Beri's, with an open-toothed, wide-eyed, apple-cheeked grin.  She's a smidge wall-eyed as well.
Cherry has eyebrows that are slightly orange in color, plus eyeshadow that matches.  Her eyes are two shades of blue and are set at a slant, which I assume is meant to make them smile along with her mouth.
If I get the camera angled just right her eyes genuinely do look like they're smiling...but if I get the camera angle wrong Cherry looks just as devious as Beri Blue!
Her cheeks are lightly blushed and have molded dimples, and her lips are an appropriate shade of pink with a band of white teeth.
When viewed from the side Cherry appears to be sticking her tongue out.  Here it's also possible to see what a dinky little nose she has.
No earrings for Cherry.  Fair enough, considering that she's supposed to be a fairly young child, but I've got to admit that little cherry studs would've been a nice touch.  She's got cute little ears though, earrings or no.
Basically, Cherry is your generically cute little doll in the face with a touch of spunk.  She doesn't look constantly mischievous like Beri Blue does, but she can look just as ornery.  As an aside, my little doll has a different head mold from that of her 1988 self, and she also has a different molds than the one that her cake-themed friends used.  All of the dolls in 1988 had a closed smile, as did all of Cherry's friends in the 1989 cake line.  Go figure; I kind of like the closed smile better, but beggars can't be choosers, right?

As with many dolls of her era, Cherry is dressed in an outfit that is sparkly, pink, very cute, and maybe a bit over the top.
It's a little dress, but there's quite a bit to talk about, as there are at least three types of fabric and three types of trim involved.  The bodice is made of fabric that is dominantly white, with some arboristic pink patterns printed on.
By contrast, the sleeves (which are really just gathered strips of cloth) are made of pink fabric with white polka dots.  As some of y'all may remember, I'm extremely fond of polka dots.
Part of Cherry's skirt is made of this same polka-dot fabric.
Topping Cherry's sleeves are small crescents of iridescent fabric.
This same fabric is used for a large ruffle on the skirt.
This iridescent fabric is thin but stiff, and it holds wrinkles like mad.  Cherry has a section of skirt that won't lie flat due to this fondness for wrinkling.
The bodice is trimmed with this cute plastic cupcake button.  The frosting on this button is yellow, making me wish that this outfit had more splashes of yellow added in.  I love pink and yellow together.
The dress is trimmed with lace in multiple places, and this trimming varies almost as much as the fabric itself.  The sleeves and neckline are trimmed with stuff like this...
...while the skirt is trimmed with stuff like this.
Mattel was still using snaps in 1989, but Cherry's dress fastens in the back with a small patch of Velcro.  This isn't a huge deal here because none of these fabrics should snag.
Over her skirt Cherry wears a small apron.  It's made from more of that iridescent fabric and is trimmed with both a strip of iridescent pink cord and the same lace that trims the skirt.  This apron is held on with a strip of pink satin ribbon.
Okay, so Cherry's getup isn't as over the top as some other dolls from this era, but that's one busy little outfit!  I don't mind the presence of two different lace shapes on this dress, but it does make the overall look a little less cohesive.  I also wish that the cake theme were a little more obvious, as the presence of all that iridescent fabric makes me think more of ice slivers frozen treats like ice cream.  Ice cream WAS used as a theme for these dolls, but the ice cream wave didn't see daylight until 1990.  The ice cream line didn't use iridescent fabric either; they appear to have gone heavily on the tulle instead.

Being a little girl doll, Cherry has a little girl doll body.
No boobies or dinky waists or impossibly long legs...I've never been one to beg toy companies for realistic toys, but I still like seeing this little gal shaped like the child she is supposed to be.  Her little tummy even sticks out a bit!  Poseability is nothing to write home, though, as Cherry's shoulders and hips can only swivel.  She can lift and move her arms...
...and she can sit with no problems.
Splits are a no-go due to the way Cherry's little tooshie is shaped.
Cherry's neck can swivel, and to my great surprise it can also tip a teensy bit in all directions.  I never manipulated her neck much when I was a child, so I had no idea she could tip her head.
Cherry's T-strap shoes are molded and painted on, in a shade of pink that matches her dress.
Cherry's hands are molded like they were meant to hold accessories.  See how they're in a slight gripping position?
My doll originally came with both a tray of muffins and a comb, but God only knows where that comb ended up.  The muffins are made of pink plastic and once smelled delectable, even more so than the doll herself.
They detach from the tray, like so.  Here it's easy to see that while there are six muffins, they are all interlocked into one piece, I assume so they wouldn't get lost.
Cherry can indeed hold the tray, but strangely it doesn't fit into her hands.  I have to balance it on top of her arms like so...
...and even then the tray often slides off or makes the doll top-heavy so that she tips over.  That's a shame that Cherry can't hold these any better than she can, because when I do get the muffins properly balanced she looks adorable.

I haven't tinkered around with clothes sharing much here, because there isn't really a lot that Cherry can share with her like-sized friends.  Penny Brite is too skinny, Suzy Cute is too chunky in the torso, and Lime Chiffon is just too small altogether.  So at the moment I'm at a complete loss for extra outfits unless I want to dig around on eBay for some things. 

I've said everything I can think of, so time to wrap it up.

*Scented doll, therefore she might aggravate allergies.  I've only recently learned that scented dolls can do this, even though I should've known it all along.
*Face is generically pretty and can look mean from some angles
*Dress wrinkles
*Hair tangles easily
*Can't wear other dolls' clothes
*Can't easily hold her tray of muffins

*Hair tangles easily, but can be untangled easily
*Theme is child-friendly and matches well with several other dolls of the era
*Outfit is cute and well-made
*The smell, when the doll was new, was not terribly overpowering.  Some scented dolls can be rather cloying, but this gal was not.
*Shoes won't get lost
*Accessories are/were relevant to the theme, instead of being random bits and bobs of crap.

Cherry Merry Muffin lacks the charm that the Strawberry Shortcake line had, but she is a very cute doll in her own right.  I had to nitpick a little to find things wrong with her, but she does have issues.  My main problem with this doll is probably a result of her age and improper storage in the past:  her skirt won't lie flat.  This is likely something that I can fix with a warm, damp cloth and a hair dryer, so no sweat.  My favorite thing about this doll, both now and when I was little, is that her shoes can't fall off.  Sure, they're pink and don't go with everything, but when a doll belongs to a small child those molded-on shoes are a godsend.  Removable shoes can be easily lost and worse, they can be a choking hazard if the doll in question is geared toward small children.  I knew better than to put things in my mouth at the age of two, but not every kid does.  So if this were a doll of today I'd recommend her to a kid in a heartbeat.  Would I recommend her to a collector though?  Well...not unless said collector owned one as a kid, or if said collector just likes Cherry's cute face.  This is strictly a toy, collectible only to nostalgia lovers or fans of Strawberry Shortcake and toys of the eighties or nineties.  That being said, I'm glad I still have mine.  I didn't keep too many of my toys from that era, but this is one I did keep and I'm very happy I did.

For reasons that should be obvious, I originally wanted to have a three-part series on these sweet-smelling foodstuff dolls, but...well, life happened.  For grins, here's Lime, Cherry, and Beri all together.
Cherry is the least original of the three, having come long after Strawberry Shortcake and not being as innovative as the Cupcakes are/were, but she still makes a good companion to Lime and Beri.  I love how they're all different colors, by the way.  If I'd kept my childhood Cupcakes doll I'd have had two that were wearing pink, so maybe it's a good thing that I gave her away.  As I've said before, I like pink but I find it overused in the doll world, though it suits Cherry nicely.  This flavorful troupe needs a doll dressed in yellow, though...maybe Lucy Lemon from the Jelly Bean line???  I just can't get over my current fascination with yellow!  By the way (tangent alert!), the Cherry Merry Muffin line did not have a lime-flavored character, probably for reasons I can understand.  Lime is a good flavor for lots of treats, but I doubt it would work too well in muffins or cake unless one wanted to use the zest.  A lime-flavored character might have worked out well in the ice cream wave, but I guess Mattel didn't think about that.  The Strawberry Shortcake line did have a cherry-flavored character though; she was Cherry Cuddler, one of the babies, and she was adorable.  Beri's line of Cupcakes had a cherry-flavored character as well; her name was...(pauses to consult Google)...Cherry Chip.  Her pink is a much more garish shade than Cherry Merry Muffin's is.  It's just now occurring to me...if I had all three cherry-themed dolls, I'd have three dolls from three different lines with the same first name!  Lordy, glad I didn't do that!

As a final little tidbit, Tam at PLANET OF THE DOLLS has a review up about her own Cherry Merry Muffin, which is a first-wave doll.  Tam was quite a bit older than I was during the eighties and doesn't have the same nostalgic feelings for Cherry that I do, thus her doll will not be staying with her.  Still, her post is worthy of a read.  It's not biased with childhood sentiment like mine is.



  1. I love hearing about 80s dolls and toys! I was 10 in '89 so this one must've fallen off my radar by then. She's really adorable and as a collector of 80s toys, she's strangely appealing to me. Probably because she hits that nostalgic nerve we all have that grew up during this time (triggers-scented, pink, generic cute face, haha). You really hit the nail on the head. :) I hope I come across a Cherry Merry Muffin someday! :)

    1. Keep your eyes peeled; you never know what might pop up in a flea market or at a yard sale. I'd recommend browsing eBay and Etsy too, as they sometimes have old-style dolls for pretty cheap. Etsy is where I found Lime Chiffon, in fact. So glad you liked this review!

    2. No prob! Best of luck on your search!

  2. I had loads of these as a kid, first doll line I ever collected lol. I had most of wave 2 with the cake hats, first wave merry with her er.. cherry... person.. friend and a lot of the anthropomorphic playsets haha. I'd love to get them all back but my childhood toys are lost to the ether. They seem to be expensive on ebay, makes me sad.

    1. Have you tried Etsy? They sometimes have nice things in good condition for reasonable prices. That's where I got some of my vintage items.