Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears to Receive Makeovers; Childhood Spoiled

new strawberry shortcake
Strawberry Shortcakes old and new. Photo: Courtesy of TCFC

When we were kids, our family's van was stolen from the library parking lot. Upsetting to our mom, but earth-shattering to us — because our favorite Care Bears Hugs and Tugs were in the back, patiently awaiting an overnight trip to the grandparents'. Now it seems we're about to lose our beloved bears all over again — this time to a makeover. According to the Times, American Greetings will soon introduce new and improved Care Bears with "less belly fat, longer eyelashes." But that's not all! This change comes as part of a larger movement to update the animated friends of our youth. "If the classic characters look less stodgy, the companies hope, they will appeal not only to parents who remember them fondly, but also to children who might automatically be suspicious of toys their parents played with," the Times tells us. "Stodgy"?" How could a lovable, cuddly, squishable — albeit mascara-less — companion be stodgy?

Other "improvements" you can look forward to (or not): The company's new Strawberry Shortcake is way skinnier (thanks to a more "fruit-forward" diet), and she has replaced her calico cat with a cell phone. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will make a comeback with "more muscles and less attitude." And over at Disney, even Mickey Mouse will be subjected to a series of tweaks to be named later, not to mention the possible urban renewal on his home, Toontown. "One plan features an old-fashioned trolley," reports the Times, but Disney "is not sure that is a smart idea. Will modern children know what an old-fashioned trolley is?" (Parents, whatever you do, do not take your kids to San Francisco!) Oh, and it gets worse: Warner Bros. will let kids style their Looney Tunes themselves. “You want a dark, Goth version of Tweety Bird? Have at it,” says Warner VP Lisa Gregorian. For God's sake, who wants a Goth Tweety? Would he hang out with the Tasmanian Angel?

Let us be clear: We are not old fogeys, but all of this makes us unbelievably depressed. Sure, we feel nostalgia for these characters and would love our (hypothetical) kids to embrace them like we did, but how will we explain the Care Bear Stare while holding an emaciated, not-so-stuffed animal? Okay, we can't think about this anymore. If you need us, we'll be playing Granola Land with our no-frizz Troll dolls. —Lori Fradkin

Beloved Characters as Reimagined for the 21st Century [NYT]