Discover more from penknife
Dressed for PEPSI Fun!
A quick visual history of Barbie's food collabs and careers
Last week I wrote about the cultural history of Barbie cakes for Eater and the Sporkful Podcast spoke with Helene Siegel, author of The Barbie Party Cookbook (1991), and unpacked why the original 1962 Barbie Dream House didn’t have a kitchen. Launched at the turn of the second wave feminist movement, Barbie wasn’t really burning her bras, but it wouldn’t look good for Barbie to be baking cupcakes either.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s that Mattel felt comfortable visually connecting Barbie with the historically gendered world of food. But since then, she’s become something of a food Influencer and even a celebrity chef, simultaneously playing into and disrupting food-related gender norms along the way.
To help visualize the breadth of Barbie’s food industry experience, I’ve compiled an incomplete (but still pretty thorough) list of all the food-related Barbie dolls in chronological order. And to make things a little simpler, I separated them into three main categories: food brand collabs, food-related careers, and random food and food-adjacent (plus a BONUS category at the end).
A few notes and disclaimers: I tried to limit findings to Barbie because it quickly got out of hand with the addition of Skipper and Kelly etc. While there are more white Barbies than Barbies-of-color, I aimed to show a selection of skin tones when they were available (i.e. sometimes they only made a white food-themed Barbie; other times they made a white and a Black one). And seriously, this is only *some* of the food themed Barbies.
FOOD BRAND COLLAB BARBIES:
Pepsi Spirit Barbie - 1989
Barbie and Stacy and Todd McDonalds Birthday - 1993
Kool-Aid Wacky Warehouse - 1994
Pizza Hut Pizza party - 1994 and 2001
Little Debbie Barbie -1995
Chuck E Cheese Barbie - 1995
Got Milk? Barbie - 1995
Russell Stover Easter Egg Barbie - 1995
Oreo Barbie - 1997
Coca-Cola Picnic Barbie - 1997
Breakfast with Barbie (Honey Nut Cheerios) - 1999
Campbell’s Alphabet Soup Barbie (with a coupon and a tiny bag of goldfish) - 1999
Yet Another Coke Barbie (with coke inflatable tube) - 1999
Life Saver Barbie - 2000
JELL-O Barbie - 2001
Pioneer Woman Barbie Kitchen Set (though I don’t remember Ree Drummond ever having pink hair)- 2019
Thanks for reading PENKNIFE! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
FOOD RELATED CAREER BARBIES:
Note the recurring themes and the egregious health and sanitation violations.
Barbie Pioneer Shopkeeper with milk tin - 1996
Barbie Chef - 2001
Play All Day Barbie Kitchen - 2006
I Can Be…Barbie TV Chef - 2008
I Can Be…Cooking Instructor and Chef - 2010
I Can Be…Restaurant Fashion - 2011
I Can Be…Pancake Chef - 2012
I Can Be…Dessert Chef - 2013
I Can Be…Sweet Chef - 2013
Barbie Glam Refrigerator - 2013
I Can Be…Cake Decorator - 2014
Barbie Cookie Chef - 2014
Barbie Market - 2015
Cupcake Chef Doll - 2016
Barbie Chef & Waiter - 2017
Barbie Farmer with chicken (single) - 2017
Barbie Beekeeper - 2018
Barbie Pizza Chef with play-doh! - 2018
I Can Be…Chicken Farmer (with a Live Love Farm shirt and coop) - 2019
full transparency: I bought the heck out of this Barbie
Barbie Noodle Maker with play-doh! - 2020
Barbie Pasta Chef - 2021
Barbie Farmers’ Market Stand Owner - 2022
RANDOM FOOD AND FOOD-ADJACENT BARBIES:
This is where things get weird. Stay with me.
Peaches and Cream Barbie - 1985
Ice Cream Fun Barbie - 1997
Lemon Lime and Strawberry Sorbet (AVON Collab) - 1998
Strawberry Party Barbie - 1998
Fruit Fantasy (scented) - 1998
Very Berry Barbie - 1999
Route 66 BBQ Bash Barbie (with a mini grill and a bag of charcoal) - 2000
Fruit Style Barbie (apple, cherry, grape) - 2001
Barbie Fruit Style (cherry, orange, strawb) with a fruity belt for YOU! - 2002
Barbie and Kelly Let’s Go Grocery Shopping - 2002
Flavor Obsession Barbies (Citrus, Peppermint, White Chocolate) - 2005
Candy Glam Barbie series with sweet lip gloss for YOU! - 2008
Barbie Dreamtopia Sweetville Princess - 2017
BONUS - BARBIE “COOKING” SETS:
Not quite an Easy Bake Oven, but not just a doll! Just eat SPRINKLES!
Sweet Treats Barbie w/ real sprinkles and Hershey’s chocolate - 1998
Celebration Cake Barbie kit - 1999
I bought this one, too, for *research* for my Barbie cake article. I haven’t opened it yet, but I’m going to film the whole thing.
Now with a renewed interest in Barbie and Gerwig’s hot pink masterpiece of a film (clearly, I loved it), I’m excited to see what new food-related Barbies find their way to the toy aisles. My fingers are crossed for a Barbie x Fishwife collab for the girl-dinner fans or maybe an alt-milk farmer for all of us oat milk girlies.
Pairs well with:
Evidently, in her early days, Barbie could have cookbooks, just not any other connection to food. The Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook from 1964 (crossing my fingers for a 2023 reprint) was written by Cynthia Lawrence who also penned other fictional novellas about the adventures of Barbie and Ken. This book is a bit of a collector’s item, but you can find folks baking with these recipes all over the Internet.