Strawberry shortcake strikes sweet spot, turns sour through decades of evolution

Reily Dominy

The show and franchise Strawberry Shortcake has been a part of many generations’ lives and has evolved over the past few decades to appeal to different age groups. Making its debut in 1979, the show continues to evolve today; however, it may not be for the best.  

Strawberry Shortcake started off as a greeting card character in the 1970’s. She went on to become a beloved icon for over 40 years with TV specials, toy lines, and apparel. 

During the 1980’s, Strawberry Shortcake was a chubby girl with bright red curly hair. She’s dressed like a grandma in her iconic red skirt, white apron, and big pink bonnet. She was the closest recreation to the original greeting card character, and the franchise only grew from there. 

The 1990’s are probably the most unrecognized era of the show. Strawberry Shortcake wore a frilly pink dress with bright pink Mary Jane’s and a pink bow. This evolution was very girly, and was more about fashion than going on adventures, unlike its prior version which consisted of lessons taught through food and baking. 

The 2003 iteration was the peak of the show. All of the characters have superb designs and amazing representation of race and body types for young kids. This is the only iteration of the show where they actually look like children. Their outfits aren’t just frilly pink dresses and bows, and the characters aren’t stereotyped to the extreme. They wear clothing that is comfortable to go on adventures in, while still being fashionable- sneakers, jeans, sunhats, and other outdoor clothing. The lessons in the show were also the best out of all of the other iterations. It taught children about the importance of empathy, consent, and manners. 

However, in 2009, everything started to go downhill. All the characters were given pin straight hair and hourglass figures. Orange Sherbert, who was the only black character, had her adorable puffball buns and cargo pants ripped away, and was made ten shades lighter with a slim fitting dress, straight hair, and Mary Jane’s. Imagine how sad kids were when they found out their favorite characters were either made caucasian or completely removed from the show. It is near impossible to look up to someone and desire to be or look like them when they are all built like models. This could cause children to feel insecure, or that they don’t fit in. Along with the poor character design, the lessons were also awful. Most of them revolved around ripping a dress or messing up a recipe. 

In 2015, the company that owned Strawberry Shortcake, American Greetings, sold the franchise to the company Iconics. The following year, word got out that Iconics partnered with DHX media to co-produce 39 episodes of a new Strawberry Shortcake series; however, Iconics sold the entire franchise a year later to DHX. 

In 2017, they released a sneak peek of the new version of the show, and fans were livid. The audience claimed that this new show was a disgrace to the franchise because the characters looked like the children in the movie Wreck It Ralph. Due to the backlash of the audience, the sneak peek was immediately taken down and all traces of the show were wiped off the internet. The show was canceled because of its extreme lack of success and ridiculous character designs.  

In 2021, they announced an entirely new show. Strawberry Shortcake became a cool and popular girl and moved to the big city, and has the goal to become the best baker in the world. According to her, big dreams can only happen in big places. The story has always taken place in a cozy town filled with friends, but the new series is set in the big city filled with unfamiliar scenarios. They use the same names as the old characters, but it doesn’t feel like the classic girls we know and love. 

Although the show is slowly getting worse, we should cherish the few years of the series that made our childhoods magical. The strawberry scent that continues to reside on our toys will live in our hearts forever as we salute the franchise we once knew goodbye as a new era emerges.