If you are a child of the '80s, chances are your parents loved the Strawberry Shortcake cartoon specials just as much as you did. At least in my house, Stawberry's adventures — which combined fairly calm plot lines with songs composed by people definitely high on pot — managed to produce a comatose-like effect, giving Mom and Dad 20 minutes of uninterrupted freedom.
'80s kids think fondly of Strawberry Shortcake because she's one of those iconic images of childhood. At least, I did until I re-watched the specials. Now I'm just confused.
Like many cartoons, the character of Strawberry existed in the real world before she made it to TV. She was invented in 1977 as a character for American Greetings, appearing in greeting cards before becoming a doll and then a whole load of other crap. In the '80s, she began appearing in animated TV specials, which you may have picked up on VHS at the video store.
The first special introduces you to the world of Strawberry Shortcake. It is called The World of Strawberry Shortcake. Strawberry Shortcake lives with her cat, Custard, in a strawberry shortcake. I do not know how this works as strawberry shortcake is a dessert which offers very little in the way of sound construction.
Strawberry Shortcake is a farmer of strawberries, which are clearly genetically engineered because they are HUGE. Either that, or the citizens of Strawberryland are descendants of Liliputians, however there's no information that indicates this as a possibility. We're told by the narrator that Strawberry's "berries are very extraordinary," which sounds pretty inappropriate. (Strawberry, by the way, always substitutes the word berry for very, presumably because the letter v does not exist in this world.)
But, like, why are the berries so important? Are they her livelihood? The only food she can eat to survive?
Strawberry Shortcake has many friends. They are primarily named after desserts and live in homes made of their particular dessert. Some friends include Huckleberry Pie, Blueberry Muffin, and Raspberry Tart. As a consequence of being named after desserts, these characters' names also sound like stripper names.
One particular character, Plum Pudding, appears in the first special as a brainy boy. After an unexplained four-year absence, Plum returns as a girl, apparently having found a doctor willing to give a minor a sex change.
The bad guy...
The villain is The Peculiar Purple Pieman, who is quite brilliantly described as "that misanthropic fathead with a skinny physique." He's usually trying to defeat Strawberry in some way, often by attempting to steal her berries.
But is he really so bad? When we first meet him, he's got this jazzy tap-dance-y intro where he's all, "Yah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah-tah, tah-tah-tah-tah! Cha!" (Which should be how you make an entrance from now on, forever.) And he can make a pie in literally two seconds, which is probably a world record.
Definitely not racist...
In the second special, Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City, Strawberry travels to a city that isn't New York for a bake-off contest. The grand prize is a new gazebo! Along the way, she and a new friend meet Tamale, a mole from Mexico, who you know is not a caricature when he says, "Caramba! Something tells me this is not Acapulco! But what do I do now? I got no place to sleep. I don't know nobody in Big City Apple." Strawberry and her friend decide that Tamale is a stand-up guy, so they invite him to come along with them for the night.