It’s a Barbie World…

September 13, 2023

…and we’re just living in it. The forever mega-popular fashion doll and gateway to imagination is bigger than ever in 2023. Read on to learn about the expansive world and history of the greatest doll of all time.

So Many Barbies: Over the past sixty-plus years, Mattel has released more than 15,000 distinctively different Barbies. Among those are more than 250 different career-spotlighting dolls, including pilot, firefighter, astronaut, doctor, journalist, flight attendant, Olympian, robotics engineer, nurse, ballet dancer, veterinarian, naval officer, tennis pro, model, aerobics instructor, and “Career Girl.” The very first: Fashion Designer Barbie, which hit stores in 1960.

Barbie’s Big Family: All her siblings have been made into dolls. In order of birth, they are: Skipper, twins Todd and Tutti, Stacie, Kelly, Chelsea (a replacement for Kelly), and Krissy. According to a Barbie children’s book from the 1960s, Barbie’s parents are named George and Margaret (they’ve never been rendered in doll form) and the whole family hails from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin.

Are Barbie and Ken a couple? Well, it’s complicated. Two years after Barbie hit stores in 1959, Ken was released as a boyfriend and companion. (His full name: Kenneth Sean Carson.) According to Mattel, the ageless couple split up in 2004, and Barbie enjoyed a brief relationship with a new guy, an Australian surfer named Blaine Gordon. That didn’t work out, and in 2011, Barbie and Ken reconnected romantically. However, according to the 2018 straight-to-DVD movie Barbie Dreamhouse Adventure, Barbie and Ken are nothing more than neighbors. 

Barbie’s Origin Story: Barbie creator Ruth Handler named her dolls after her children—daughter Barbara and son Ken. Barbara was present at the ceremony in 2002 when Barbie got memorialized in Hollywood. The doll’s namesake held a Barbie’s feet into wet cement in the sidewalk of the Egyptian Theatre.

Barbie the Movie Star: Long before Barbie became a blockbuster draw at the cineplex, the character starred in dozens of animated movies. Barbie in the Nutcracker launched the franchise in 2001, the first of 41 DVD and streaming-based movies made for kids. 

Hall of Famer: When the National Toy Hall of Fame launched in 1999, it enshrined 17 classic children’s playthings. At the top of the list for the inaugural class: Barbie.

Barbie’s First Car: In 1962, kids could buy a Barbie-sized Austin Healey. (It only came in pink, of course.)

Barbie’s Signature Color: Pink is strongly associated with Barbie, and a particular shade at that. It’s got its own officially, internationally recognized Pantone designation. Barbie Pink is PMS 219.

Another, More Important Barbie First: Barbie’s friend Becky debuted with the 1997 doll, Share a Smile Becky. That was the first ever doll who employed the use of a wheelchair. 

The Single Best-Selling Barbie Edition of All Time: 1992’s Totally Hair Barbie. The doll boasts an enormous amount of long, thick, crimped blond hair — which kids can style with over and over.

Barbie Presidential Candidate Dolls: These roll out every election year, a tradition dating back to 1992. In 2016, presidential hopeful Barbie got a female running mate doll. (Barbie has yet to win a real-life presidential election.)