annually on March 13th
Ken Day celebrates the Ken doll, whose full name is Kenneth Carson. There is some discrepancy as to if the Ken doll debuted on Saturday, March 11, 1961, or Monday, March 13, 1961. Mattel, the maker of Barbie, claims it to have been March 11, but most other sites claim it was March 13, and that is why Ken Day is celebrated when it is. Ken debuted at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. Barbie had debuted two years earlier at the same fair.
Ken was named after Ken Handler, the son of Ruth and Elliot Handler. Ruth and Elliot were two of the founders of Mattel, and it was Ruth who invented the Barbie Doll. Barbie was named after the Handler's daughter Barbara. Ken Handler died in 1994.
The original Ken doll had red swim trunks, sandals, and a yellow towel, and could be purchased for $3.50—about $29.00 in 2018 dollars. He could be bought with either blonde or brunette hair. Early dolls had felt (or "flocked") hair, but as it fell off when it got wet, the dolls were quickly changed to have plastic molded hair. A rooted hairstyle debuted in 1973. Ken stands at 12 inches in height, a half inch taller than Barbie. Until 1977, Ken had straight non-bendable arms and a head that could only go left and right. Superstar Ken was then released—he had bendable arms, a swiveling head, a more muscular body, and molded underwear. Throughout the years, Ken's clothing styles have reflected the fashions of the times. The first African American Ken doll was released in 1981, as a model of the Sunsational Malibu Ken doll. The Earring Magic Ken doll was released in 1993 and was a huge hit with gay men. It was discontinued, but not before becoming the biggest selling Ken doll of all time. The suggestively named and more mature looking Sugar Daddy Ken doll was released in 2010. Mattel claimed that the doll's dog's name was Sugar and that was why the doll had the name it did—he was Sugar's daddy. A revamped Ken doll was designed by stylist Phillip Bloch and launched in 2006.
Ken met Barbie on the set of a television commercial in 1961. Just like Barbie, he is from the fictional Wisconsin city of Willows. His best friend Alan Sherwood was introduced in 1964, and Ken has a younger brother named Tommy. Ken has had more than 40 careers over the years, such as a businessman, Olympian, pilot, and actor. He even appeared in Toy Story 3. Ken and Barbie were never married, but they have been together for most of their existence. They separated a bit during the 1960s, and according to Mattel they broke up on Valentine's Day in 2004 but remained friends. Barbie dated Blaine Gordon for a time after this, but she was once again pursued by Ken, and they got back together on Valentine's Day in 2011—on the year of their 50th anniversary.
How to Observe Ken Day
Celebrate the day by getting out your old Ken dolls or going out and buying some Ken dolls. Take a look at some of the Ken dolls throughout the years. You could also watch Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, Toy Story 3, or another Barbie film.