These Books Made Me

Bonus Episode: American Girl Cafe Field Trip

November 26, 2021 Prince George's County Memorial Library System
These Books Made Me
Bonus Episode: American Girl Cafe Field Trip
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

It's a store! It's a bistro for dolls! It's a rose-colored fever dream! It's our field trip to the American Girl Cafe at Tysons Corner! Journey with us through the strange world of the American Girl Cafe. Only in the AG  Cafe can you simultaneously feel like a small child and also incredibly old. We explore a plethora of dolls and accessories, ask just what it means to be an American Girl, and contemplate the viability of taking a date to the American Girl Cafe. While we all pined for the AG x Stoney Clover Lane swag, we were a little concerned by coffin cases, dolls trapped in glass, and a game that heckled us. It's the American Girl Cafe where there are surprises (and mozzarella sticks) around every corner!

These Books Made Me is a podcast about the literary heroines who shaped us and is a product of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System podcast network. Stay in touch with us via Twitter @PGCMLS with #TheseBooksMadeMe or by email at TheseBooksMadeMe@pgcmls.info. For recommended readalikes and deep dives into topics related to each episode, visit our blog at https://pgcmls.medium.com/.

Hawa:

Hi, I'm Hawa.

Heather:

I'm Heather.

Kelsey:

I'm Kelsey.

Hannah:

I'm Hannah.

Hawa:

And this is our podcast. These Books Made Me. Today we're going to be continuing our American Girl series of episodes with our field trips to the American Girl store and cafe. Friendly warning as always, this podcast contains spoilers. If you haven't yet spent your last dime on the Stoney Clover Lane collab Samantha tote bag proceed with caution.

Kelsey:

So we were joined by some special returning guest stars on our trip today. Will came with us. He's not here right now, but he did join us for our field trip. And you may hear him in some, on the scene audio and Maria and Emmy also came with us from our previous episodes. Maria and Emmy, welcome back to the pod.

Emmy:

Thanks so much.

Maria:

Thank you for having us back.

Kelsey:

And you remember may remember Emmy from our Kirsten episode and Maria from our Felicity episode. And Will of course is our illustrious podcast editor. Okay. So we took a field trip to the Tyson's corner location of the American Girl store today. And we want to discuss our first impression. So what did we think, walking in the front doors of the American Girl store? How do we feel?

Hawa:

Oh my gosh. Pink. [Laughter]

Hannah:

So much pink!

Kelsey:

Very pink.

Emmy:

It's like a distinctive rusty shade of pink. Like they have their own brand pink.

Kelsey:

It's very millennial pink. That's a thing.

Hannah:

I wonder if that was intentional. That's kind of, they were trying to pitch it towards

Emmy:

I think the original boxes were kind of like a red, like a burgundy. So they were on the pink direction.

Kelsey:

Yeah.

Hawa:

Millennium Pink. That sounds like a Crayola color.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I mean, I definitely, it was very exciting. I think the first thing that surprised me was like, I didn't recognize any of the girls in the front of the store. [Laughter].

Hawa:

Same

Kelsey:

And it made me feel very old.

Heather:

Yeah, I think , um, well there were so many dolls, dolls, as far as the eye could see. When you see dolls that are meant to be historical dolls, but they're from when you were around. I think that was a little deflating.

Hannah:

It's an odd feeling.

Kelsey:

[In store] Oh yes. Oh my God. Look at her phone. I want her phone. I want her Guinea pig. She has some of those caboodle boxes. Oh my God. Okay. That's very authentic. I love this. I wouldn't want, I want this now. I love her VHS and her TV. What?!? Oh my God. She has a Trapper keeper. Yes. They went in on the branding.

Heather:

They didn't quite get the mall bangs right. There's no height to them.

Kelsey:

Yeah. You need some lift. Oh my God, a boombox where the cassettes really work. It's like hit clips.

Heather:

She has a Care Bear sleeping bag!

Kelsey:

Ok I might need this doll. Look at this phone!

Heather:

This is so accurate. This looks exactly like the Care Bear sleeping bag I got handed down from my cousin.[End of in store clip]

Kelsey:

We spent a lot of time with the eighties doll...Courtney?

Heather:

Yes. She had the amazing clear phone that you could see all of the workings. She had a caboodle.

Kelsey:

Mm hmm

Heather:

Also great. She had mix tapes.

Hawa:

Was she the one with the Pac-Man machine?

Heather & others:

She was

Kelsey:

She had the Pac-Man machine. She had lip smackers she had a Care Bear sleeping bag...

Heather:

She had like a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.

Hawa:

Did she?!

Kelsey:

Yes

Hawa:

Oh my gosh. How did I miss it?!

Kelsey:

I took a video. Don't worry.

Hawa:

Thank you.

Kelsey:

I like very much want her, I want to read her stories.

Hannah:

She has a tiny little eyeshadow palette. It's with a brush, it was adorable.

Heather:

Her hair was an issue though. Like, I felt like they were going from mall bangs, but they were instead just sort of like come over and then flat.

Kelsey:

They had no body

Heather:

So it wasn't quite right. And I felt like her hair was going to be a struggle for whoever got her, but I liked all of her stuff a lot

Kelsey:

[In store clip] Who dis? Is this Addy? No, Whose that? Melanie? Oh yeah that's Melanie... I like her piano. That's kind of cool. [End of store clip]

Hawa:

I think that if I had to pick one of the new dolls that I would be interested in either like reading their story or just like having, it would, I think it was Melody. And so she was a cute little black girl from like the sixties. And she was like interested in like voting rights, but she also looked like she just like, had like fun. Like, it just wasn't all like, oh my gosh, the struggle. And then like, she always had these like super cute outfits.

Kelsey:

Yeah. She's a musician.

Emmy:

Yeah, She has like a little piano and a recording studio.

Hawa:

Yeah

Kelsey:

She's cool.

Hannah:

She's in the sixties. So she had like really, really good fashion.

Kelsey:

Yeah. I, I definitely want to read hers as well.

Heather:

She was like the Motown doll, but when we walked in, Will said, That doll has a podcast!

Multiple speakers:

[Laughter]

Heather:

because she was standing there with like a microphone. So yeah, she, she did not have a podcast. She was from the sixties. She was like the Diana Ross doll. She was, it looked like she had a girl band. Cause she had like in a different part of the store. She had two other dolls with her who were in the same like beautiful fringed dress.

Kelsey:

Yes.

Heather:

Yes. She was fabulous.

Kelsey:

They also had a lot of male dolls or boy dolls in the diorama that they created, which I thought was interesting. They don't really like promote it, but you can buy them. But it was very hard to find.

Maria:

I think we each took turns trying to figure out if Will would get it. It's just really cool to see a male dole there.

Heather:

Um , did any of the male dolls have names?

Kelsey:

No. There was, it was like number 45 and number 22.

Hawa:

There was one that had a name.

Multiple speakers:

Who? What was the name!?

Hawa:

Darryl had a name.

Multiple speakers:

Oh yeah!

Hawa:

Yes. He had an apron and he had a name tag on, but also I'm pretty sure I saw him in a different display as like doll number something, something. So that could have just been his name I think... for that, because he was working

Kelsey:

When he's out on the town. He's all 45.

Heather:

So one of my friends of few years ago found some American Girls at a thrift store and like bought a couple for Peanut. And so she's getting them out for me. So I could get it here at Samantha and Addy to bring and there's this girl and I'm like, whoa, and who is this one Peanut? And she's like thats girl 46. And I was like, what's her name? Girl 46 truly. And she like went through and found the like bright face and the hair. And she just called her Girl 46.

Kelsey:

Which is kinda iconic.

Heather:

horrifying

Emmy:

The, the downstairs part of the store had all of the girls that you can design yourself. So they all have different numbers based on like what you pick. So it seemed like upstairs was devoted to the historical dolls. And then the downstairs ones you could pick like different, different like hairs and skin color and eye color. And then the boys were like part of that, like the modern ones.

Hannah:

I did notice that When they had like that case of like design your own dolls with the numbers, like the boy doll, I think was the only one that had an Out of Stock sticker. Oh they did. There's a demand.

Kelsey:

Yeah. Let's pour one out also for Kirsten and Molly who do not exist in the American Girl store.

Emmy:

Can't believe there's no Kirsten anywhere.

Kelsey:

I think she's like fully retired. I don't know, man. I mean, she did burn down her house.

Speaker 1:

Um, there is like one very tiny Addy shelf. Yeah . So she kind of made it, but it seems like that was a limited time thing. No. Oh I no Felicity, no Phyllis

Hawa:

With the exception of like the mini dolls.

:

\Yes. The new ,

Speaker 6:

Uh , 18 inch Trulicity. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Samantha and has Faena are the only original ones to survive to make the cut .

Speaker 2:

I was surprised that they didn't at least have it like on display, like, oh, these were like the originals, you know, their stories. But I guess if they can't make no money off of it, I mean, we're not selling it. So, but you know, I feel like that still could have been a way to kind of like promote their ridiculously expensive Stony Clover lane line . Like, oh, Hey, these the original $6 . Yeah . You can't get them, but you can get this ridiculously priced merchandise at the same price as them

Speaker 4:

Makeup pouch, the starting on was like more than the doll costs, which was, I guess that was specifically targeting adults like us to go to the American girls.

Speaker 2:

I went up to the register and I was like, cause at this point I had been talking to the girl that was at the register upstairs for a little bit. So she was pretty cool. So I was like, I'm just going to ask you out of curiosity, how much is this pouch? She was like $120. I was like, thank you for sharing that

Speaker 4:

$200. I, yeah. I mean, I don't see kids going in and saying, I've got to have this pouch

Speaker 1:

For a doll that doesn't exist in the stores . Maybe

Speaker 4:

I'm not sure they would even get the reference. So just to clarify, the fabric used on these pouches and totes were reminiscent of the fabrics on the original dolls dresses. So Samantha's had the like burgundy and white checks and like Kiersten had the blue field with the flowers and then they had these little like badges or like , uh , patches, like embroidered of the girls , silhouette and hair basically on those to match. But yeah, I , I don't even feel like, because they weren't in the store . Most girls that go in are not even going to get the reference. So those products really were for us,

Speaker 1:

I didn't say . Yeah. And like, it's not like they were designed to be like a handbag that someone would spend money on and like use all the time. Cause like one was a makeup bag. Like I'm not going to spend a hundred dollars on something that I'm going to literally put dirty makeup brushes. One was like maybe an iPad mini holder size bag. That's not a purse. Like, I don't know. None of them were like a daily, the tote maybe, but it wasn't like towed as a generous word for the size of that item. That was $200.

Speaker 6:

Well, I don't know what the tote was made, but those pouches are basically made out of plastic. And I'm like, you can't turn

Speaker 3:

A nylon texture.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Fascinating. Well, it's comforting that , um , the theme of being outrageously and unnecessarily expensive carries through to this day. Very nostalgic.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Oh , is she an Australian girl ? Rescues animals, Australia . Okay. Am I missing this American girl? Yes . I mean, I'm very happy for her, but like why is there an Australian , but it's America . Am I sounding very conservative? [inaudible]

Speaker 1:

I guess going back to the vein of dolls that we were surprised by, I continue to be confused as to why the doll of the year, this year is Australia unclear . Okay. Let's be fair. We don't know if she's Australian, because it does not explain how she got to Australia. So she may be American, but living in Australia, but either way it seems a little odd. It's an American girl.

Speaker 4:

Well, she was also very clearly Bindi Irwin, right ? Like they made her look like Bendi Irwin. She had all of this like animal rescue kind of thing. She was in the little like khakis. It seemed very clearly based on Bindi Irwin. So yeah, that was interesting. She also had like a whole like glamping set, which seems not very bendy ROL . Like I feel like she would just actually rough it, but the

Speaker 5:

Pink muskies , glam piles ,

Speaker 1:

Can they force items on you to , to try to buy?

Speaker 5:

So I did flip through the first book. I think she's going to visit a relative in Australia, but it's literally the first chapter where they mentioned that she's coming from America to go there. And like on the plane, she reads a book about Australian facts and she like eats Tim Tams on your way there. So it's like getting ready for Australia. And then the rest of the book series is about her there. So

Speaker 1:

I guess it just raises the question of like, what is the intention of American girl? Like why w what are they trying to represent with a girl, an American girl, not living in America? Like what experiences that capture .

Speaker 4:

But I mean, I don't know that they're about capturing things at this point. Like that was the overwhelming vibe of the store was just commercialism. So I think once the line got sold to Mattel, it took a pretty hard veer into just straight up commercial.

Speaker 1:

How many settings can we, right .

Speaker 4:

I mean, it's like, how much more can we come up with while we've got dogs? We've got horses, we've got CA we don't have a koala. Koalas. There were also wombats. Yeah. So I don't know. I think one of the biggest surprises to me that I commented on when we were in the store was how plastic, everything is now compared to, you know, my stuff was original pleasant company stuff. And like the accessories, when I was getting out my dolls last night, they don't even look the same because they aren't that shiny cheap plasticky feel. But like, even like the difference between the foods that I had in Samantha's tea party versus the foods that they have now, like those pleasant company ones, it was little crystal goblets. It was little Petit fours that were just these beautifully painted, miniatures. It all looked very real. There was a little doily for the plate. There was nothing like that in here. Like the food sets were plastic plate, plastic foods. They weren't particularly realistic. The sizing was all

Speaker 1:

Very confusing. There was a chocolate biscuit that was the same size as a very teeny, tiny plastic water

Speaker 4:

That was in part of delight vignette. That was like the first class air cabin. And then an air stewardess who had, had a really unfortunate bout with turbulence. I guess she was face down, maybe she was a pilot pilot or a stewardess, but then it also like raises the question that Daryl raises as well. Why are all of these children working adult jobs? When like a huge thing in Samantha was like child labor as bad. It was ,

Speaker 5:

And clear, there is also a display where some girls were taking care of a little baby, like a tiny baby doll. So we were wondering where that came from, but I will say on the subject of like the tiny accessories , all the foods, the little displays they had set up , um, as someone who used to get the American girl product catalogs and cut out the little accessories because not enough money to buy it . So it was nice to be able to like see them in person. And they did have a few , uh , areas where they were like set out. And I saw kids like going to the store, interacting with them and like getting to play with them. So it's kind of a unique experience for a place to like, be able to really, I wish there was like more places where they had that out there. Cause there was like one or two in the store where the things were not in a glass case, but it's nice that they were kind of hands-on about it. I keep

Speaker 6:

Thinking about the Australian American girl whose name I forgotten here , glamping, Kira and her glamping set. And I just really want them to sell like a pouch of little plastic mosquitoes. You can like stick in the pink mosquito netting,

Speaker 1:

You can throw them out her .

Speaker 4:

So I think we were talking about surprises. Um, some other surprises while we were there, that doll holders in the restrooms, which were great. So if you go into the restroom in the stall, there's these little like strange hook vests . So you can like Hank while I use the restroom. And then there's one by the sink as well. But it basically holds the dolls up by the armpits. And then the doll is just like looking at you while you're in the bathroom, which was really unexpected. Um , but thoughtful, I guess. And then also like they were really concerned about the escalators. There were so many signs with the escalators about like wearing proper footwear on the escalators. I felt very threatened by

Speaker 6:

That. Oh, I didn't notice any of these signs were no

Speaker 4:

Going up and going down don't Crocs don't wear flip flops. There were a

Speaker 1:

Lot of like no long dresses, which I was like, Ooh ,

Speaker 6:

I was not paying any attention to this.

Speaker 7:

Going back to the restrooms a little bit, since we luckily had will , there will , did make the discovery that the men's bathroom don't have the hooks for, for the American girl dolls. And I mean, we saw that all of the boy dolls were sold out. So I wonder where ridiculous,

Speaker 5:

Where they went

Speaker 2:

Actually is hilarious because it's like messed up. But it's like, it's hilarious that like he thought to think of it. Cause I remember I pointed it out. So I'm sure when he went to , he was probably like, oh, where's my doll holder.

Speaker 1:

They didn't even offer him a doll when we sat down, you know how they give you a doll if you want one. Well, I guess they didn't offer any of us.

Speaker 4:

I mean, we were packing like four dolls.

Speaker 1:

We each needed our ,

Speaker 4:

We had so many dolls that there really was not enough room for the adults at the table in their special chairs. So maybe she was just like, that's enough. They

Speaker 2:

Were like, y'all are grown $4 at the table is

Speaker 1:

Okay. We're we're not talking about the cafe right now. I accidentally made a tangent.

Speaker 4:

The other thing that was there, that was new to me. I know we talked about it briefly in the , um, the history on Valerie trip was the well-wishers series. So they had a big chunk of the store was dedicated to well-wishers . Those dolls are very like frail looking compared to the classic American girl dolls. Like they're very thing. I called them scrawny while we were there. Like they're very thin and waifish looking, I also wasn't entirely sure what the angle was on those. Like they're sort of magical, but maybe not. So I don't know if anybody had thoughts on well-wishers , but I was, I found them a little bit. I don't know. They didn't seem to vibe with the other American girl stuff. And I was, you know, part of American girl that's been appealing to people is that it's not Barbie. It's not presenting like unrealistic body images to kids, but then the well-wishers were very much like very slender kind of big heads for the body.

Speaker 7:

I mean, I've definitely had weird fives or weird feelings about it because their faces were so puffy. Like the cheeks were a little swollen and then their limbs were so thin and some of them look like tipped over a little bit. So they did look a little weird. And I mean, the outfits kind of reminded me of like the fairy Barbies , the ones that were like do the spinoff . So like the outfits kind of reminded me of that. I mean, one was clearly supposed to mimic a mermaid or one a unicorn. Yeah. I think I definitely prefer like the old American girl dolls. These, these kind of weirded me out. I didn't really,

Speaker 5:

I understand why they were all wearing wellies also. Like, I don't know the story of the books , but it seems like a very specific shoe type for them to all be

Speaker 1:

And why wellies, because that's not what we call them. I mean, it's cute, but I don't get it, but I will say I really like the wellies they're clear. And the idea is you wear fun socks, so you can see the socks through the wellies. And I thought that was pretty cool. I did kind of want a pair of wellies. Literally.

Speaker 2:

We didn't know what wellies were until today. So thank you for that. It's always something new I'm learning when I'm with you all the new,

Speaker 1:

Well on the topic of foreign words. Uh , and he did point out that, well, I guess, foreign travel and he did point out that the five places that you can travel, if you're an American girl, according to the merchandise that they sold was England, Ireland, Italy, France, or Japan, that's it. Those are the countries. So they sell these

Speaker 5:

Packages for world travel that have a little accessories that we noted were very touristy and over the top. So maybe not very authentic, but they only had the four European countries and Japan

Speaker 2:

That's all one thing I thought was kind of cool was that they had like a Kwanzaa celebration outfit for like the dolls . So like she had like a kente kind of outfit and it came with like the , the Canara candles, a unity cup and the mat , um , and like some strappy sandals. So I thought that was kind of cool. And then

Speaker 1:

I had a doll with a head scarf , although I would like to see them have like more than there was just the one color, like one option. It would be cool to have a couple options, especially if their whole thing is they're doing like a, truly me, this is what I look like

Speaker 2:

Doll. It would have been so cool to see like a little black Muslim girl, like as a doll . Like for me, that would have been like, oh, like , Hey, that's kinda like me. So, or, or I guess if like they sold like the kit on the side, it's like, oh, this is your , your Muslim girl dog care or something. I dunno , that might be reaching it. But yeah,

Speaker 4:

I don't know, probably 50 different glasses options you could get, but there was only the one he shop and it was like bright pink and had like little jewels on it. So it was cute, but like, yeah, they also had a doll in a sorry , um , that was available. And then they had a doll that was meant to be a Hanukkah themed kit, which was interesting. Cause it was a dress and there was a little necklace with a star of David pendant and shoes. But as Howard pointed out, there was like, no menorah, no dreidel . There wasn't like anything actually for Hanukkah and not set. Whereas like upstairs with the historical line , Rebecca has like a full on like I think a Seder meal and all of these accessories. So that was kind of an interesting, are they not putting much on the truly me Jewish doll? They expecting people to buy from the historical line, Rebecca accessories that also felt kind of short shrift.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's already here in one packaging. So if you want it from here, you just got to go and get it. I thought it was kind of cool. I didn't realize that they sold so many accessories with these dolls. Like , um, especially when we were upstairs, I think there was something that we saw that said it had like 137 pieces or something like that. I'm $195. I was looking at this display. I was like, does this even look like this many pieces, but when you like really, really look into it, if you start to count each and every little piece, I'm sure you can get up to that. That many, I think the most interesting accessory that I saw was actually, I think it was downstairs. I don't know what display it was in, but it was like a thing of string cheese. It was like,

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 5:

The accessories are my very favorite part. I love tiny little things. And I think we were mentioning at the store, we were wishing that you could buy maybe just like one element of them. Like if you want to justify some tights or like just a, just a string cheese, but it always comes in a set of like so many other things. So they're making you buy all of them,

Speaker 2:

Sorry to backtrack. But I was, I randomly just looked up the Kwanzaa outfit and they had a , so they had a different Kwanzaa outfit that was released in 1996. And I was retired in 1999 and I'm not going to lie. I think I like the older one better. Hopefully this is something we can include in the blog, but I'm not making any promises.

Speaker 1:

I guess the other thing that I wanted to highlight from the in store experience is the salon. So , um, I think all of us who brought our doll were at least a little tempted to drop our dolls off at the salon. Cause they're all a little worse for wear. Uh, but it was really cute. They had like the chairs lined up along the cash register and they were all like mini salon chairs and they had the dolls in there and there was a woman behind the counter fixing up some hair. Um, and it was only like 10 bucks to get a spa package for your doll that included like cleaning, cleaning marks off of it. And then it would get like its nails painted. So honestly that's not terrible. It might be worth a future trip because my Kiersten certainly wears for where . Yeah. So

Speaker 2:

I had took a picture of it. So it says that , uh , treat your doll two a day at the spa. It includes cleaning from head to toe manicure and a pedicure for your doll to a bottle of nail Polish to take home in two sets of reusable, nail stickers. One thing that I thought was funny though, they had an , a separate sign that said, because our stylists are specifically trained to work with doll hair that stands up to styling. Please note that we only perform salon services for authentic American girl dolls. Basically don't bring your bootleg dolls to American girl thinking that you're going to get a hair done, get his hair done because they're not doing that.

Speaker 1:

It's like hair straighteners and stuff on it. So they have to be able to stand up to heat stuff .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. She pulled out some scissors. I was like, oh, you really go in there.

Speaker 1:

This is happening. So, but that was cute. And that was like always my dream when I was a kid was to take my doll to the store and like, get it cleaned up and fixed up. Kelsey, I thought your dream was to bring you to all the farms I wanted the full store experience. I wanted to take it to the hospital. Yeah . I just wanted, I just wanted all the services they offered to be part of the experience for me. You can have more than one

Speaker 2:

Dream. Kelsey is a dreamer.

Speaker 1:

Some of them are doll related.

Speaker 2:

I think I thought about the story that was kind of cool that they had , um , like I guess they have a lot of books that are like American girl. Like not like, they're not like following the characters, but like they have like, oh, like lifestyle type books for like girls and stuff like that. And I seen a couple of them in the library, like here or there, but it's kind of cool to just see them all like lined up together like that. So that was something that was thought that was cute. They had a book about racism and inclusion. Yeah .

Speaker 1:

Kind of interesting. But I didn't see it in the store. I just saw like a sticker advertising it. So it seemed like it was sold out, but that would have been,

Speaker 2:

I just need to see what they say about that. That does sound interesting. I kind of want to look that up now. I was going to say how you have it in the advertisement not having to store, but then when you pointed it, it might've been sold out. I was like, okay, I'll give them that. They were saying

Speaker 1:

It's new. So like maybe it's popular. Yeah. Oh, I also wanted to highlight that a lot of the dolls now have like funky hair colors, like purple and blue. And I really liked the doll with the blue hair. Like it made me want to dye my hair blue really bad.

Speaker 2:

I was so excited because Heather pointed out to me, the girl with the P or the girl with the purple hair. Cause it was like the cute little black girl with purple hair. And like, I , I know y'all, can't see me. Right. Cause it's a podcast. But I currently have in like not braids that are like black and purple. So I was like, oh my God, I feel seen. I mean, they weren't braids, but you know, take what you can get. Right?

Speaker 5:

So after a long day of browsing and buying and looking at small plastic doll lunches, you do get hungry. So our next stop was the American girl cafe. We have a brief history of the origins of American girl cafe that we, we learned today at the American girl cafe. And Hannah is going to bring that to us today.

Speaker 6:

We learned that once upon a time, there was a girl, a girl who went to the city, a girl who loved the symphony. This girl went to the city with her mother for a fabulous day of symphonies and cinnamon buns and coded hand squeezes and decided all girls should have the stay a day. Redolent with cinnamon scented, time's past cloth napkins and dolls. So many dolls listeners. This girl was pleasant Rowland . And this is her cafe.

Speaker 1:

It was very pink. It was very pink. And a like I'm in the early two thousands and everything's kind of tacky with

Speaker 4:

Yes, there were many pink stripes. There were pink flowers chandelier on the ceiling.

Speaker 1:

It did not make me feel like I just left a day at the symphony.

Speaker 4:

No, especially because they had the whole symphony story on the back of the dessert menu. And it described like a pretty fancy pants. Veestro I would not describe the American girl cafe in that way. It was more like pink, Johnny rocket with doll high chair that attached to your table. Yeah .

Speaker 7:

We go back to that. Can we just remember how we all went gasped at seeing the chair just connected as we set the girls?

Speaker 1:

Yes we did. Yes. Our waitress did kindly attach Addie to the table for us as a demonstration. And when she finally got in place, we did all let out of color collective like shriek.

Speaker 4:

We did. And I thought it was clear that she did not think we were going to be able to fit them in the chair and attach them correctly without a demonstration as well. I felt like our weight just had very little faith in , which was probably warranted because I did struggle with,

Speaker 1:

And we were seven adults bringing our dolls to a store that was entirely filled with children.

Speaker 4:

Yes. We were the only adult only table, the American girl cafe.

Speaker 2:

Our dolls also got like a little plates to eat their food in. And they got like little white mugs that had a pink, the pink flower and American girl logo on it. So that was super cute. And we got to keep them. So that was kind of cool. And you know, Addie had some,

Speaker 4:

There's also a bar for children at the front of the cafe, but it's like for shakes and such

Speaker 1:

Very old school , I think that was the problem. It was like, I couldn't quite understand like what era we were supposed to be in.

Speaker 4:

It was a little dated feeling, but yeah, placing, it was hard. Is it like fifties diner or is it, I don't know. Yeah, it was of the century, 2001 extravaganza of pink stripes. I don't know. I think the ,

Speaker 7:

To that we can't get here with just match that. I mean, it was definitely your early mid two thousands pop music.

Speaker 6:

The music was confusing.

Speaker 2:

I wasn't really like the children that come to this store will not know any of these songs are going to be like, what is this? Like they played Hillary Duff at some point. I mean, I was jamming . Don't get me wrong. But considering who the target here is, they would have been like , um, can you play something? I don't even know what the kids listen to nowadays. I don't know I'm going to stop talking because I'm making myself sound old,

Speaker 1:

But that is true. Like that was confusing to me because it really felt like, and this happened a couple of times like that it was being marketed to us as millennials who had the dolls as children. But then obviously like not far enough because they're trying to sell dolls, which we're not going to buy, like the new 2021 doll, like that's not going to happen. So like the audience was very confusing and I feel like I was very clear in the store and they even played this American girl roll call song and it had all the original girls in it. And then it had the two new girls and I'm like, who is this for? Like that , that if there's no overlap of the people who like those both dolls,

Speaker 5:

We did luckily get to see some people around us who were having birthdays. So they brought like the little pink and white birthday cake. They had like a ton of extra birthday cakes in the front too, that you could see when you were walking in just like waiting to go. Um , and we were also offered craft projects to do while we waited for our food, which we remarked. It was like a little Halloween card with stickers. So it avoids like bringing Kranz to the table and having to do all that. So it was, it was very entertaining to be able to do an activity while you wait.

Speaker 1:

I was kept very occupied by my sticker.

Speaker 6:

It was very important to decide where to place the eyes on the bed. Yes. I think I overheard. And one of those like birthday parties here to stay asked the waitress for something and she said, oh, that's not in that package. Which you look to have. Great . Yeah .

Speaker 4:

I heard the app sell too because the little girl wanted the crown that the one little girl, and she said, that's part of the birthday package. Would you like to upgrade your experience with us? And then she rattled off all of the things that were part of that package. But yeah, the mom did not, did not upgrade the package. She bought herself a glass of wine and kept it moving.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So you can get alcohol at the American girl cafe, which again, who is the audience here? Well, actually that makes sense. Stress out , parents who just spent more money than they meant to at the store. I will say, I mean, how expensive the American girl universe is, is like a common theme for us. But I think the food was actually really reasonably priced because we're in a, we're in like one of the most expensive neighborhoods in DC. But also like you get a starter and a main course, that was like a full portion of both for $18, no matter what combination of starter and main course you get, like that's pretty reasonable.

Speaker 4:

I thought it was fine for us. Yeah . I think that the kid's menu only being foreign under makes it less reasonable. Cause you're presumably bringing kids. And if you're looking at $18 for a kid's meal, essentially, plus a $4 drink, you've just like thrown $22 at like a six year olds meal

Speaker 1:

That is going to pick out four bites,

Speaker 4:

One chicken tender and you know,

Speaker 2:

The kids better drink water. So all this money, you want some dolls for you. You don't need that busy.

Speaker 1:

The center is about me, sweetie. It's not about you. The food was okay, it's fine.

Speaker 2:

Are we going to all share what we ordered

Speaker 1:

There ? The table was split. Like half of us got artichoke dip and a Caesar salad and a salad, some version of a salad. And some of us got mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders, pretzel bites was

Speaker 6:

Appetizer person there. However they weren't bad. They were, you know,

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I say , I got the spinach dip and I got the chicken tenders and I switched out the macaroni and cheese for some fries. Cause I don't trust macaroni and cheese from just anywhere.

Speaker 4:

One thing that I will point out is that the back of the menu symphony story went on and on about delicious cinnamon buns. And there were not offered any cinnamon buns. They were not on the menu while we were there. Maybe on the brunch menu.

Speaker 2:

That's a possibility because I was looking through tick talk on the way there. And I don't know if this was in New York or Chicago, but they definitely look like they had some warm cinnamon buns. And there are the layouts of the other stores looked very fancy.

Speaker 4:

This is a smaller store because again, like looking at the New York store, it looked like it was at least three floors and Tyson's is two floors. It's sort of split like historical girls plus cafe on the one floor. And then the other floors , truly me dolls plus 12 .

Speaker 1:

Yeah. You would think though that like the newest cafe of which Tyson's corner is, would be like the nicest inside, but yeah, overall I would say it was fine. We were discussing if you would bring a date to the American girl cafe, what do we think?

Speaker 4:

I think I would. I mean, I think it depends on where you are in your dating life with that person. Because I think as a first date, it would be terrifying. I mean really like if someone took you there as a first date, there would not be a second date. You would have real questions about that person. I think maybe it's okay as a really weird, ironic date later in her relationship. I don't know. I could see mentioning like, oh, I had American girl dolls when I was a kid and then having a partner that was like surprised . I brought you to the American girl cafe. Cause they don't really understand what it's about. And then that would be, I guess, sweet. But it is not a romantic place. The American girl

Speaker 2:

I'm interested in what their brunch menu looks like. But I mean, I've, I mean, I've seen the brunch menu online. I'd be interested in what it tastes like. But as far as the day , personally, my boyfriend only really like steak and they don't have anything like that on the menu. So it's going to be a pass from us. He's here. They had salmon. Yeah. He doesn't like seafood, but he likes calamari , but they didn't have calamari, which would be kind of random at the American girl cafe, not going to lie, but I'd probably go for it. If it was there to see how it goes. It's one of those risky things. But like, yeah , that's a competent choice. Salmon was kind of risky. I thought about it. The girl, the register said it was good, but I was like, Hmm , chicken tenders are safe. Date-wise you know, I think we were all a little

Speaker 6:

Vicious about how good the salmon could be based on the rest of the menu, which was very much like, you know, finally hamburger, chicken tenders, whatever, but like salmon.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Yeah . Like Heather said pink, Johnny rockets. It could be one of those cutesy fun dates. Like, you know how you see like random things on Tik TOK. Like, oh, Hey, let's go do this random fun thing. Or like when they say stuff like, oh, let's, let's go to the third store and pick out each other's outfit. So they didn't go on a date like that . That sounds like one of those places you'd go on like a random fun .

Speaker 4:

Yeah. I don't think it's interactive enough for like a fun date because what would you do there? You would just either have to spend a ton of money to buy things then that's kind of the, and then you play with them. I mean, I don't, I'm not sure what the like interactive element would be on a date. So I think it's not a great dates stop. You could

Speaker 2:

Do spooky sticker activity. Yeah . We got lucky with that

Speaker 4:

Together.

Speaker 7:

So some of us made some purchases today. What did everyone buy? So I

Speaker 2:

Can go first. I bought a mini

Speaker 5:

Felicity doll because of my red hair. Felicity was always my favorite and I was kid and I never got to have one. So I have a tiny Felicity.

Speaker 2:

That's super cute. Um, so I bought , um, I bought a mini Addy doll. I bought a mini auntie doll. So when we went to the store and we were talking about how there's kind of like a lack of like the historical dolls , um, they did have Addie , but they didn't have her in her original pink dress. That was all sold out. Unfortunately. So I did not buy the big one of that, but I did buy a mini one for like $25. And it comes with like an abridged version of the , the finding freedom Addie books . So I thought that was super cute. And then I also bought a puzzle that has like a picture of like the six original dolls. It's 500 pieces. It's sitting on a table , um , and where we record and you know, we'll get around to it. Eventually we started separating the pieces. They think I'm chaotic for not starting with the edges, but you know, it is what it is. We'll see the progress hopefully.

Speaker 7:

So I actually ended up getting a Felicity doll as well. I mean, I grew up with the books, but I didn't have the dog growing up. And then I also kind of like splurge getting host the Faena as well. Instead of doing a game today, we're going to do a live reveal of an American girl mini mystery pack purchased today at the store. Describe the package. So the package is actually pretty thick. It's a cute purple it's like holographic, very holographic, very intriguing, large star. And it's for six years old and up . Oh good.

Speaker 1:

I was worried.

Speaker 7:

So we're safe to open. So we're safe to open it. We're part of the

Speaker 1:

Intended audience.

Speaker 7:

It's actually a painting set. Oh, we've got, yeah, we've got the pink set. So we've got about five different color paints, not the primary colors, but is there a pink? We've got black. We've got blue. White. Oh, we do have the primary colors, red and yellow. Thank goodness. That'd be super challenging colors . And then a really cute paintbrush that looks like a nice shadow brush. That's really cute. And it looks like you can, they are a collection so you can collect them all. There's about 13 of them that you can actually collect.

Speaker 1:

Is it real paint?

Speaker 7:

I don't know. Now it's, it's solid plastic.

Speaker 4:

So in a difference between current accessories and all the accessories , um, back in the day, I saved my money for ages to get , um, the Samantha accessories from the trip to teardrop island, which involved , uh, the painting box and the book that she finds in the book of the mother's watercolors . Those paints were in fact real paint. You could actually paint in the blank pages in the book with tiny brush, tiny paints. They worked perfectly well. Did you paint yours? I did. I did. I'm sure. Now that would be a no-no because a child would eat it or something, but no such concerns when it was still pleasant company. Um, but it was all, you know, it was wood, there was no plastic on it. Everything was wood , real hair on the paintbrush. The sketchbook had like sketchbook quality pages to it that had half to them. The miniatures were beautifully done for pleasant company. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I just feel like a lost cause I feel like that's part of why people love them so much is , but like you can feel the care that went into the stuff .

Speaker 4:

Well, and just the quality, you know, like when you have a little brown wooden case with little brass hinges that actually work and a little leather handle, it's very different than having something plastic. But yeah, I guess all of those are probably just like collectors items you could get online now. I mean, even

Speaker 7:

The paint palette it, if it's pretty big enough that if a kid wanted to mix something, but it already comes with colors on it, so definitely loses it. And it's not even the primary colors at all, either since like all of the secondary colors, it looks like

Speaker 1:

The M the saves the day accessories. Oh, it's just the outfit and the whistle, no paints, but $150 on an Onyx .

Speaker 7:

Well, speaking of the difference between the old accessories and the new, I also got a, like, like Emmy Maria

Speaker 6:

Also got a mini Felicity doll and she came with a very different dress than the original one . She doesn't have that sort of shades of beige with like flowers on it. She did with Richard , she has like a blue and with like a yellow panel dress and she just looks buried . I mean , it comes with a tiny little book, that's it doesn't have, it's not the meat Felicity book. It's some variation on it with a completely different artwork and not going to lie. It's kind of weird to look at that and not see the original, the styling. Yeah, I did

Speaker 7:

With the girl at the register just in case. And she said, yeah, this is all they have left available for.

Speaker 2:

I felt the same way about looking at the Addy doll with this in this blue dress. And like they have the 18 inch one and the blue dress, but I was like, if she's not in the pink dress, I'm not saying

Speaker 4:

Spending the money for it. Sorry. I , and I were looking at the old paint sets or from the evolution of Samantha's paint sets online on Etsy. There's a mint condition vintage set , um , which is the one that I had that has the pine sachet and the sketchbook and the carrying case and the paints and everything. It's $225. So, but it does look in mint condition. I mean, it looks perfect. Even the tubes look like they're still folder. I imagine those paints are quite dry now. Yeah. So one of the two things, while we, there, there were some unsettling , um, uses of dolls though. I guess also just like that many dolls is kind of, it's a lot odd anyways, there's dolls everywhere. So there was like one section where Kelsey and I were commenting because it was showing like all the different outfits that this one dog had. But so there were like seven of the same doll, but just different outfits and different hair. So it was a very like children of the corn kind of, it was a little weird. And then that was also near the carrying cases that kind of looked like coffins or like, I don't know, space pods or something. But the strangest thing with the dolls was that there was a lobby. So between two sets of like glass doors. So it was just an entryway with like a walk-off mat in it. So if it was raining or something, but the outside said, you can't go on this way. The inside said, you can't go out that way. And inside this lobby area on either wall was an American girl doll trapped in glass

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] are there some in the other wall [inaudible]

Speaker 4:

It was very disconcerting. And it set us down a path of talking about, I don't even know if you would call it fan fiction. It's like a doll horror stories that could involve , uh , an uprising of the American girl, truly me dolls that just have numbers instead of names. Yeah. So along the lines of

Speaker 5:

The star wars order 66, where there's an order sent out to summon the soldiers, we imagine that each of the number dolls have a communication device that connects them with the pleasant company. And eventually they start stories start coming out of them, starting to act on their own or move around. And eventually all the dolls probably March towards, towards the store , um, to, to commit their evil plot. So in our horror story, a protagonist tries to unravel the mystery, find out what the dolls are doing. Eventually there's a showdown in the store. They see all the dolls trapped in glass to very dramatic situation. They try to leave in the lobby, dolls, get them. I can see the scene very clearly. When did you write this?

Speaker 4:

There was a , a game in the store and sort of the well-wishers area. So you were supposed to go and read these little blurbs around the well-wishers area to determine what each girl's thing was that she was good at or would like, and then there was a machine I'll let Marie exploit the machine.

Speaker 7:

The machine gave you basically, you had to pick out the correct , uh, clues to each doll. And I mean, we would put it in order. One of the buttons clearly didn't work because it would not light up. But once you get to the end, there's just a kind of creepy doll . Just laughing at you mom .

Speaker 4:

Yeah. When you win the game. So when you start the game, it says like, you can be a wealthy wisher to find these clues about things in Europe , you'll get a surprise. But then the surprise is that they're like laughing at you. They don't say anything. They just laugh at you. It was unsettling.

Speaker 7:

Even one of the moms can't walk by. And she just like looked at the machine, like what in the world are they doing?

Speaker 4:

It was not a fun game . All right . Well, that's it for this special bonus episode of these books made me stay tuned for more bonus content during our hiatus, as always feel free to drop us a tweet. We are at PDC MLS on Twitter and hashtag these books. Maybe you can also send us your questions@thesebooksmademeatpgcmls.info , and don't forget to check out our blog, LinkedIn, the episode notes.

Intro
Welcome to returning guests
What did we think?
When your childhood becomes a doll
Melanie and her cool piano
Male dolls sighted in the wild
Doll 46
Pour one out for Kirsten and Molly
Stony Clover nostalgia line
Australian or American?
Everything is plastic
Surprises and the store layout
Wellie Wisher series
MOAR outfits and accessories for special occasions
Doll salon
Cafe
Doll chairs
Menu
Purchases
Current accessories versus classic accessories
Dolls are spooky
Outro