10 Holiday Gifts That Caused Riots (Black Friday Fights)
Can you believe that it's almost that time again? Time to string up the lights, place the angel atop the tree, and steamroll your way through the lines at Wal-Mart to get this year's must-have item. To kick off this holiday season, we're shopping for the top 10 gifts that sparked holiday madness.
Cabbage Patch Kid
The doll that started it all. A simple mix of plastic and fabric that took the 80's by storm, raining a hail of angry shoppers and desperate parents on retailers across America. As you could probably guess, not everybody that wanted one got a Cabbage Patch Kid for Christmas when they released in 1983. The doll was in such short supply that retailers resorted to holding lotteries to pick which lucky families left with the prize. Those not lucky enough to win their own Cabbage Patch Kid weren't shy in taking matters into their own hands. Brawls broke out across many retailers, leading to shop owners brandishing baseball bats for protection. If a parent didn't resort to violence, then chances are they tried to bribe employees.
Tickle Me Elmo
Could Sesame Streets' red-furred Elmo ever be behind a craze so maddening that it drove people to completely disregard their fellow man? As innocent as the big-eyed puppet may seem, the answer is unequivocally "yes!" During the 1996 holiday season, Tyco Preschool released an intoxicating Elmo doll that giggled and shook when squeezed, as if being tickled. Unaware that such a simple concept would spark a frenzy of shoppers and after an unprompted plug from Rosie O'Donnell boosted demand, Tyco was ill-prepared for the holiday season. The craze was two-fold: You had parents who absolutely wanted to surprise their kids and then you had people looking to make a quick substantial buck. Elmos were being sold second-hand for astronomical gouges, upwards of thousands of dollars. Fights broke out and people were arrested during the hysteria caused by a simple red doll.
Nowadays, Furbys are a novelty gift, but when they were released in 1998 by Tiger Electronics, they were the "next big thing." The small, robotic alien ball of fluff and penetrating eyes was revered for its ability to appear to learn English over time. While its main feature was mostly a gimmick, people ate the concept up and became rabid over making sure there was a Furby waiting under their tree. During the 1998 holiday season, specifically on Black Friday, mobs of people sought out the pointy-eared robot, leading to stampedes like the one in Bentonville, Arkansas that left shoppers Donna Marie Unangst and Judy Roccosanto battered and bruised.
How do you guarantee your product is going to cause some holiday madness? You release it 2 days before Christmas. Such was the case for Nike's release of the Air Jordan 11 Retro "Concord" on December 23rd, 2011. With people madly in love with the Air Jordan brand - or at least with the profit they're able to turn by reselling them - Nike was setting retailers up for disaster with such a last minute holiday release, and disaster they got. In Seattle, Washington, fueled by too much eggnog and greed, shoppers caused a small riot that led to at least 20 people being pepper sprayed by local authorities. The frenzy wasn't just in the northwest, either, as incidents were also reported in Indiana, Florida, Virginia, and Texas.
PlayStation 3 / Nintendo Wii
A year after Microsoft's Xbox 360 holiday debacle, Sony, and Nintendo joined the 7th generation of consoles with the PlayStation 3 and Wii consoles. With time to watch where Microsoft faltered during its launch, one would think that either company would better prepare themselves for the 2006 holiday release of their system, especially since both companies launched their product right before Black Friday. The ratio of supply versus demand was so off kilter that neither company was able to completely fulfill preorders, leaving some customers to wait until after the holiday before receiving their system. Like the 360, the market was marred by greed as systems were snatched up with the sole purpose of taking advantage of the holiday rush.
Leave it to people to completely ruin something that's supposed to be fun and bring joy to someone. Enter the Xbox 360, Microsoft's second gaming console and the latest thing to hit the market in 2005. Facing a massive demand and a release date so close to Black Friday, Microsoft seemingly underestimated its ability to meet consumer need and left many customers out in the cold. Making matters worse were opportunists that were snatching up multiple systems and selling them on eBay at incredibly high markups. It took several months, but eventually the 360 became readily available, but it had already left a black mark on the holidays of many disappointed kids.
Hang around your elders enough and you'll hear a tale of an archaic game system that - get this - didn't have 3D graphics or online multiplayer! Oh, the horror! Sure, the Atari VCS (later renamed Atari 2600) may not appeal to the current generation's love for flashy colors and intricate detailing, but when it released in 1977 in the North American market, it was all the craze. After a slow start, children and adults wound up loving the microprocessor-based hardware so much that, by 1979, it became the best-selling Christmas gift. Of course, you don't earn the title of best-selling Christmas gift without a few broken hearts - and limbs - being left in the wake.
Zhu Zhu Pets
You all remember why everybody went crazy for Zhu Zhu Pets during the 2009 holiday season, right? Anybody? Believe it or not, this now lesser known plaything was a massive draw for children during the 2009 Christmas season. The robotic hamster is a product of Cepia LLC and, while they're still sold today, they don't quite have the same draw as they did the year of their United States release. As with most holiday gifts, Black Friday was a big day for Zhu Zhu shopping and people were so crazed about purchasing one that the Times Square Toys 'r Us was forced to create two lines of customers: one for general and one for Zhu Zhu shoppers.
They may have been tiny but Beanie Babies certainly left a lasting impression on children. So much so that, 3 years after their initial release, Ty, Inc. still had trouble fulfilling orders. Released in Chicago in 1993, Beanie Babies didn't reach nationwide fame until 1995. The incredible response to Beanie Babies carried over into the 1995 and 1996 holiday seasons, sending parents and kids alike into a tailspin. Ty couldn't keep up with the demand and made the craze a little worse by retiring some of the current collection. In the height of Beanie Babies madness, retailers were running out and some kids were left disappointed Christmas morning when they received socks instead of their treasured Beanie.
Mr. Potato Head
Who would have thought a smiling, anthropomorphic potato would make for the perfect Christmas gift? In the 1940's, toy inventor George Lerner apparently did, which is why he thought to shove body parts into fruits and vegetables to create goofy little people. By 1952, Hasbro was ready to bring Lerner's crazy idea to life and, wouldn't you know, being the first televised children's toy, the response was impressive. During its first holiday, 7 months after its initial release, parents flocked to stores to pick up the toy that their children had been clambering about for months.