|First appearance||Greeting cards published by American Greetings|
|Voiced by||Russi Taylor (1980-1985)|
Sarah Heinke (2003-2008)
Anna Cummer (2009-2015)
Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld (currently)
Tracey Moore (singing voice)
Amy Smart (Robot Chicken)
Tara Strong (Honda)
Strawberry Shortcake is a cartoon character originally used in greeting cards published by American Greetings, but who was later expanded to include dolls, posters, and other products. The Strawberry Shortcake properties also include a toy line of the character's friends and pets. In addition, the franchise has spawned television specials, animated television series, and films. The franchise is currently owned by the Canadian children's television company WildBrain and American brand management company, Iconix Brand Group through the holding company Shortcake IP Holdings LLC.
The original creator and designer of the Strawberry Shortcake character was Barbi Sargent while she was a contracted freelance artist for American Greetings. The character first appeared on a Laurel Valentine's Day Greeting card in 1973. At the time, the character was simply called Girl with a Daisy and was a picture of a cute little girl who wore an orange bonnet with strawberries printed on it and held a daisy. Rex Conners, American Greetings' staff art director, knew this card was very popular and realized what made it so popular were the strawberries. He requested Barbi to create four cards with a "strawberryish" outfit for the Mega Test Market. So, in July 1977, Barbi Sargent received an assignment which was completed in early July 1977 and that she tendered to American Greetings on July 7 that year, four "leader cards" depicting the Strawberry Shortcake character in full color. ("Leader cards" are used by American Greetings for consumer test purposes.) The first time the public saw Strawberry Shortcake in her new outfit with her pink cat, Custard, was in that national test. There was a very positive response by the public once the cards were released.
The next Strawberry Shortcake concept drawings were created in the late 1970s by Muriel Fahrion during her time as a greeting card illustrator at American Greetings' Juvenile & Humorous card department. Fahrion then designed a subsequent 32 characters for Those Characters From Cleveland (American Greetings' toy and licensing design division). Frances Kariotakis was chosen as the main illustrator of the series.
In 1979, toy manufacturer Kenner Products licensed the character and released the first Strawberry Shortcake doll. At the time, Strawberry Shortcake resembled a typical rag doll, complete with freckles, a mop of red yarn curls, and a bonnet with strawberry prints on it. Cindy Mayer Patton and Janet Jones designed the other later characters of the Strawberry Shortcake line. Lynn Edwards was the editor of the line and developed the characters and storyline. The first doll was a rag doll designed by Muriel Fahrion and created by Susan Trentel, Fahrion's sister. Final art was executed by a number of different freelancers, the majority being painted by Fran Kariotakis.
The Strawberry Shortcake line of characters each had their own fruit or dessert-themed name with clothing to match, and they each had a dessert- or fruit-named pet. Like the Strawberry Shortcake doll, all the other characters' dolls had hair scented to match their dessert theme. The characters lived and played in a magical world known as Strawberryland.
During the 1980s, Strawberry Shortcake became popular with young girls throughout the United States. At the time, there were many related products, such as sticker albums, clothing, bedding, a video game by Parker Brothers entitled Strawberry Shortcake Musical Match-Ups for the Atari 2600, etc. Several TV specials were made featuring the characters, one each year between 1980 and 1985, by which time the characters' popularity had waned. Kenner produced no new dolls or toys thereafter.
In May 1983, following a court case, copyrights to Strawberry Shortcake were granted to Barbi Sargent from American Greetings Corporation. Later on, Barbi returned the copyrights to American Greetings so that they could continue with the success of the Strawberry Shortcake franchise.
In 1991, THQ tried reviving the franchise by producing an updated line of Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Strawberry and five of her classic friends each got a makeover with new clothes, hair, and eyes. However, the line enjoyed at best a modest success, lasting just a year.
In 2002, the franchise was revived again, this time with a revamped look by a different designer. Many strong licensing deals were made. A television series with new home video releases was produced. Soundtracks for the episodes were also released.
Bandai (along with KellyToy) was granted the manufacturing rights of the Strawberry Shortcake dolls and toys. For the first time in almost two decades, new video games were launched, produced by The Game Factory for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Educational CD-ROMs for the PC were also produced.
In 2006, Playmates Toys picked up the rights to manufacture and sell Strawberry Shortcake figurines. The line they produced was named "A World of Friends". A full-length feature film, Strawberry Shortcake: The Sweet Dreams Movie, premiered in 2006 and was released on DVD in February 2007. Playmates Toys lost the manufacturing rights to Hasbro, which began releasing new Strawberry Shortcake-themed toys beginning in the fall of 2009, after American Greetings rebooted the franchise. Hasbro lost the manufacturing rights to The Bridge Direct in early 2014.
In May 2017, DHX Media announced that it would acquire Iconix's entertainment brands, including Strawberry Shortcake and majority ownership of Peanuts, for $345 million. It was finalized on June 30, 2017.
From 1980 through 1985, television specials featuring Strawberry Shortcake were produced annually.
The 1980 and 1982 specials were animated by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson and Toei Animation, while the 1983, 1984 and 1985 specials were animated by Nelvana. The 1981 special was a unique case, animated by Perpetual Motion Pictures of New York.
A major revamping took place at the characters' relaunch. Both Pupcake and Custard now belong to Strawberry Shortcake. In Pupcake's place, a new pet, Shoofly Frog, was introduced as Huckleberry Pie's pet, and Apple Dumplin' was relaunched as Strawberry Shortcake's sister. Also, Strawberryland is now divided into "districts" like Cakewalk, Orange Blossom Acres, Huckleberry Briar and Cookie Corners.
The 2003 revival of the franchise introduced fillies to the franchise. Each of the fillies are tied down to a character, with the main filly, Honey Pie Pony, being the only one able to talk and have a pet. However, when Playmates took over the dolls rights from Bandai, they decided to scrap the existing fillies and introduce new ones. However, the removal has not spread beyond the scope of the toy line.
In 2003, the Strawberry Shortcake franchise was given a huge relaunch by DIC Entertainment, and with it, a Direct-to-Video/TV series was produced, 19 years after the last special. The series reflected the changes in the direction of the franchise, and has the primary focus on being an educational program. 44 episodes were produced, including four 45-minute specials. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the series worldwide on VHS and DVD.
In October 2006, the first Strawberry Shortcake film, The Sweet Dreams Movie, was released in select cities by Kidtoon Films. The Peculiar Purple Pie-Man of Porcupine Peak and Sour Grapes, which were notably absent from the TV series, are re-introduced in the movie. However, Sour Grapes is re-introduced as Purple Pieman's sister in materials related to the Sweet Dreams Movie. The movie was released on DVD on February 6, 2007, and has also been aired on networks and released on DVD and VideoCDs worldwide.
In June 2008, American Greetings announced that Hasbro had won the license from Playmates, and with it they would relaunch the series again. The extensive relaunch involved numerous large redesigns and a reboot of the franchise's universe. The relaunch began in Summer 2009, with the release of a CGI movie, The Sky's the Limit, with Anna Cummer voicing Strawberry Shortcake. A TV series, Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures, debuted on October 10, 2010 on Discovery Family. 65 episodes were produced.
Merchandise of the 2009 relaunch began appearing in mid-2009. In 2016, IDW Publishing began releasing an ongoing Strawberry Shortcake comic series written by Georgia Ball, with art by Amy Mebberson. Both Ball and Mebberson identified as fans of the 1980s series, with Ball drawing inspiration from girls with "doubts and challenges but their friends back them up and support them."
The main characters of the show are Strawberry Shortcake, Lemon Meringue, Orange Blossom, Raspberry Torte, Plum Pudding, Blueberry Muffin, and Cherry Jam. Huckleberry Pie, who was reintroduced in the third season of Berry Bitty Adventures, also visits on occasion and Sweet and Sour Grapes, and Apple Dumpling who were introduced in the fourth season.
At The New York Toy Fair in 2014, it was learned that the toy-making license for Strawberry Shortcake had passed from Hasbro to a company called The Bridge Direct, makers of Pinkie Cooper and The Jet Set Pets dolls. The product shown appears to stay with the look of the 2009 Strawberry Shortcake relaunch, including several series of dolls featuring pets, doll furniture, and musical instruments.
In May 2018, DHX Media and its subsidiary, WildBrain, debuted a new 2D reboot of Strawberry Shortcake on YouTube and YouTube TV produced by WildBrain Studios. This reboot features Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld as Strawberry Shortcake, Amanda Barker as Orange Blossom, Dylan Jones as the Purple Pieman, Kaylin Lee Clinton as Raisin Cane, and Laurie Hymes as Sour Grapes.
Iconix Brand Group and DHX Media (now WildBrain) disclosed that the development of an undergoing fifth variation is in-the-works, after the franchise's acquisition in 2016. 3 seasons, totaling with the completion of 39 episodes, are scheduled for the new series, although no cast, crew, and release date are known yet. The adaptation will also consist of televised CGI-animation, alike with the preceding 2009 series.
Kid Stuff Records released albums based on the character in the early 1980s. After the 2003 revival, Koch Records have issued soundtrack CDs containing music from the TV series and DVDs, as well as one for the movie. Additionally, a CD was released along with a piano book.
The first Strawberry Shortcake videogame was produced in 1983 for the Atari 2600. No further games based upon the franchise were produced until 20 years later, in 2003, with Strawberry Shortcake: Amazing Cookie Party for PC. Since then, games have been published for the Game Boy Advance, Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, PC, and Mac. A standalone plug-and-play game based on Konami's Dance Dance Revolution franchise was also produced. In addition, mobile apps for the iOS and Android platforms have been released.
In 2003, webcomic Penny Arcade posted an "advertisement" for an imaginary computer game, American McGee's Strawberry Shortcake--a parody of the actual computer game American McGee's Alice, a twisted and violent take on Lewis Carroll's works. American Greetings took offense to the parody and issued a cease-and-desist letter, to which the authors begrudgingly complied - but not without making their indignation very clear. A follow-up strip cites bad timing as a contributing factor to the lawsuit, Holkins and Krahulik were not aware that American Greetings was about to relaunch the Strawberry Shortcake line at that time.
Some argue that Penny Arcades case was not covered under the fair use doctrine because the use of the characters in this case was for satire; they claim that fair use only protects the unauthorized use of copyrighted characters in parodies of the original material, and that satire and parody are totally different concepts. Others, however, take the view that parody and satire are equally protected by law.
Penny Arcade did not intend to offend American Greetings in the comic, but instead intended to mock American McGee and McFarlane Toys, who collaborated to create a toy line based on a twisted version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The poster also mocked American McGee's game, American McGee's Alice, a game with a dark and twisted take on Lewis Carroll's books, Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Various animated television shows, including Futurama (episode "Saturday Morning Fun Pit"), Drawn Together, Robot Chicken, and South Park ("Imaginationland Episode II") have since also parodied or satirized Strawberry Shortcake in various ways.
On June 20, 2008, Cookie Jar Entertainment announced its intention to merge with DiC Entertainment, who holds the rights to the Strawberry Shortcake animated series. The merger was completed on July 23, 2008. On the same day as the finalization of the merger, Cookie Jar Entertainment announced further intentions to acquire the Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears franchises from American Greetings itself. The deal was expected to finalize on September 30, 2008. However, up until April 2009, there was no further word on the status of the acquisition.
In March 2009, it was announced that Cookie Jar delayed the acquisition back in December 2008 due to difficulty in financing the acquisition. It was also revealed that Cookie Jar offered US$195 million for the franchise. Due to the situation, American Greetings has put the franchise back on sale. It was also announced that French company MoonScoop has expressed interest and offered US$95 million for the franchise, US$100 million less than what was offered by Cookie Jar. Cookie Jar has announced intentions to compete against MoonScoop's bid, however. Cookie Jar had until the end of April 2009 to counter MoonScoop's bid.
This had led to various lawsuits between Cookie Jar, American Greetings and MoonScoop. American Greetings emerged as the victor of the case and retained ownership of the brands. However, Iconix Group has expressed interest in buying the Strawberry Shortcake brand from American Greetings in February 2015 for US$105 million, 10 million more than that was offered by Moonscoop. The deal apparently closed successfully.