Strawberry Shortcake is a brand character currently owned by Iconix Brand Group, which has agreed to sell it to Canadian children's television company DHX Media subject to regulatory approval. It was also made by Hasbro in 2008-2013. In 2014, Hasbro sold the toys to The Bridge Direct. She was originally used in greeting cards, but 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 original design of Strawberry Shortcake and her cat, Custard, was done in 1979 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 & licensing design division).
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 classic Strawberry Shortcake line. Lynn Edwards was the editor of the line and developed the personality profiles as well as the story line and philosophy. The first doll was a rag doll designed by Muriel Fahrion and created by Susan Trentel, Fahrion's sister.
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 a huge fad for young girls throughout the United States. At the time, there were many related products, such as sticker albums, clothing, a video game by Parker Bros. entitled Strawberry Shortcake Musical Match-Ups for the Atari 2600 , and numerous other products. Several TV specials were made featuring the characters, one each year between 1980 and 1985, when the fad had waned. Kenner produced no new dolls or toys thereafter.
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 the one 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 DVDs and VHSs (and in some markets, particularly those in Asia, Video CDs) were released. Soundtracks for the episodes were also released on CD at various intervals. DiC Entertainment was granted rights for producing the TV series. The company sub-licensed the production of videos, DVDs and Video CDs of the Strawberry Shortcake series to 20th Century Fox Home Videos. 20th Century Fox subsequently licensed the production of these videos outside of the U.S. to various other licensees.
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 videogames 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" and the doll "Frosty Puff" debuted in this new product line. Although a good deal of shuffling and redistribution took place concerning the pets of the re-launched Strawberry Shortcake characters, very few of the new dolls were actually merchandised with their respective pets.
A full-length feature film, Strawberry Shortcake: The Sweet Dreams Movie, premiered in 2006 and was released on DVD in February 2007.
The Playmates' new product line was met with mixed reactions from the series' fans; however, the line's public reception was generally negative. As a result, Playmates Toys lost the manufacturing rights to Hasbro, who began releasing new Strawberry Shortcake themed toys beginning in the fall of 2009, after American Greetings rebooted the franchise.
Hasbro eventually lost the manufacturing rights to The Bridge Direct in early 2014.
In February 2015, Iconix Brand Group acquired the rights to Strawberry Shortcake from American Greetings for $105 million.
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. DHX has indicated that it expects the agreement to be finalized on approximately June 30, 2017.
This is were Hasbro came in:
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.