Meet My Dolls

Meet the cast of A Peek into the Pantry! We started off with four dolls, and have certainly expanded since then. I thought I should throw this page together both so that people can see all the dolls in one place, but also for easier navigation. If you're looking for all the Samantha recipes, for example, click on her name and you'll be directed to her tag on the blog, where you'll find all the Samantha themed recipes we've done since 2013.

They're organized by year, starting with the earliest and ending with the most modern. Hopefully this will help you navigate the blog a little easier if you're looking for something specific!

Jane Collier: Jamestown, Virginia 1614
Jane is my one and only (thus far...) original historical character covering a time period American Girl hasn't and might never tackle themselves. Early, early colonial America has a lot of interesting (and sometimes kind of horrifying!) food that shows how colonists kept traditions from medieval Europe alive, while adapting to the ingredients that were available to them in the New World. Often times, these recipes have Native influences, as settlers learned new foodways from their new neighbors.

Jane is a Truly Me #55 who has not been customized. Most of her wardrobe is from Plimoth Plantation. Jamestown is my second favorite historical subject to study after World War II, and I'd been very interested in trying out some recipes from this period, so Jane's here to give me a character to explore the early days of European colonization. Someday I'd like to sit down and write out her whole story, but the gist of it is she hates that she has to move and isn't exactly thrilled to find out how primitive life in James Fort is in 1614.

Kaya'aton'my: Pacific Northwest 1764
Kaya and her family - members of the Nimíipuu, or Nez Perce tribe - lived in what is now Oregon, Washington state and Idaho, traveling to different parts of the region depending on the season. They'd fish for salmon at Celilo Falls in the summer, women like Kaya would dig for root vegetables like camas bulbs and the men would travel on horseback to the Great Plains to hunt buffalo. Most of the foods Kaya would have grown up eating are very specific to that part of the world, and can be challenging for someone on the opposite coast to recreate, but it's a great opportunity to be creative and find modern adaptations of treats she would have enjoyed, as well as learning about how modern Nez Perce have adapted traditional recipes.

Kaya was a Christmas gift from my parents in 2003. Kaya came out around the time my enthusiasm for collecting AG started to wane, but I was so unbelievably excited that they'd finally made a Native American doll and that she was from the tribe I had done extensive research on as part of our fourth grade curriculum that even though I felt like I was starting to outgrow AG a little bit, I still really wanted to add her to my group.

Felicity Merriman & Elizabeth Cole: Williamsburg, Virginia 1774
Life in America before the Revolutionary War meant you grew up eating a lot of food that wasn't too different from then-contemporary English cuisine. Felicity still would have enjoyed meat pies and puddings, but also enjoyed treats that were more influenced by the slowly diversifying population of the American colonies and thus were distinctly American creations. When new unpopular legislation went into place, people began drinking coffee and chocolate instead of tea, and when the war broke out, people learned to make do without luxuries.

Felicity in a lot of ways is the doll that started it all. We happened to have a copy of Felicity Learns a Lesson on our shelf, and when I was eight, I read it and was completely hooked. It happened to coincide with our social studies unit about colonial America, and I absolutely fell in love with Felicity and the time period. I wanted to try saving money for her myself, but was always terrible at budgeting and saving money when I was little so I was super surprised to discover she was my gift that year! Elizabeth was adopted from eBay once it became clear Felicity would be making a reappearance from the vault. I figured she was going to become very expensive after Felicity came back and figured I would regret not getting her at a reasonable price if that did indeed come to pass. No regrets so far!

Caroline Abbott: Sacketts Harbor, New York 1812
Food in Caroline's time still had its fair share of similarities to food Felicity would have known, but with people moving farther and farther beyond the original thirteen colonies and keeping ties with England firmly severed, Americans continued to create their own unique food culture and identity. Wealthy Americans like Dolley Madison introduced ice cream to the upper class, while families like Caroline's enjoyed local ingredients from Lake Ontario and the surrounding farms. A war would again encourage smuggling and black markets for goods that were difficult to come by, and discouraged people from adopting modern English recipes like the sandwich!

Caroline was a birthday present from my parents in 2014. I got to pick her out in person at the store in New York, and then had to wait a few months before I got to officially add her to the roster!

Josefina Montoya: Santa Fe, New Mexico 1824
In 1824, Santa Fe was still a part of Mexico, not the United States. Josefina and her family would have eaten dishes that had firm ties to their Mexican heritage, while also incorporating new things from local Native tribes and even the white settlers who were beginning to become more and more prominent in their part of the world. For rancho owners like the Montoyas, there was always plenty of cheese, eggs, beans and corn to make delicious meals flavored with chiles and other spices that are still staples of New Mexican cuisine today.

Josefina was picked up from AG Place NYC in January 2014. I've found some evidence that Josefina was the doll I wanted next before Kaya came out, and I know I had always coveted her horno and kitchen set. It's really incredible to have all six of the characters I loved as a kid in my house, because it's something I'd never thought would actually happen when I was younger!

Cécile Rey & Marie-Grace Gardner: New Orleans, Louisiana 1853
New Orleans has always been a cultural melting pot. In 1853, it was one of the most diverse places in North America, with large populations from France, Africa, the Caribbean, other parts of Europe and Native Americans, and all their food history has been blended to create a really unique food scene that's still thriving today. Not every dish you associate with modern New Orleans would have been something Cécile and Marie-Grace would have enjoyed, but the city they lived in was just as colorful and blended as the city we know today.

These two probably have the craziest origin story because I honestly wasn't expecting to add them to my collection so early, or maybe even at all if it wasn't for this blog. I wasn't especially interested in their time period or most of their clothes, but they brought in fun potential for tasty food none of the other girls could represent, so they were on the table, but definitely not a priority. Then my mom happened to be watching the TODAY Show when they announced a deal on both of them and their holiday dresses, so for the sake of the blog, she snapped up both of them. I was so surprised and very excited, and I have to admit, I've grown quite fond of both of them, even if I'm still disappointed that Cécile isn't the main character.

Kirsten (& Andra) Larson: Minnesota 1854 
Immigrants like Kirsten's family brought their traditions from the old country with them to America, creating communities with traditional food and customs alongside more American creations. Kirsten would have grown up eating Swedish pancakes and St. Lucia buns, but also would have been able to try new recipes and foods from her German neighbors, her teacher from back east, and even her best friend Signing Bird's family. Other pioneers like the Larsons would learn to live off the land and trade for goods they didn't have, or find ways to adapt classic recipes to the new foods they had in America.

Kirsten was given to me by my grandparents in 1996. Since she's the oldest and has been my favorite since I got her, she's definitely the most spoiled in terms of having a near complete collection, and is definitely one of my "if I have to get rid of everything else, I'm not getting rid of you" items. Because Kirsten is starting to show her age and I worry about taking her places, she'll also be represented on the blog by her stunt double Andra, who is an eBay rescue Mattel Kirsten doll. Andra means "second" (as in second Kirsten) in Swedish.

Addy Walker: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1864
The 1860's was another period of extreme stress on large parts of the population of the United States. Parts of the country were literally starving during the Civil War, and others just felt the pinch of wartime shortages. At the same time, inventions like the hand crank ice cream machine were making luxury food items easier for average people to get their hands on, and commercially produced baking powder made baking cakes a breeze. Newly free Black families like the Walkers would have brought their recipes from southern plantations to places like Philadelphia and Boston, introducing northerners to things like collared greens and Hoppin' John, while they got to try new treats like lemonade and strawberry shortcake.

Addy was paid for with a gift card I won from AG in 2013. They held a contest on the website promising that if you wrote reviews of products you'd purchased, you would be entered to win a $100 gift card and I won! I decided to put it towards a doll, and chose Addy because her series was a favorite of mine as a kid and had been my intended next doll after Rebecca.

Samantha Parkington & Nellie O'Malley: Mount Bedford & New York City, New York 1904
The Turn of the Century was a period of enormous inequity. While kids like Samantha got to have fancy tea parties with petit fours and peppermint ice cream, children of immigrants worked in factories and lived on the edge of starvation in big cities. President Theodore Roosevelt started to take more interest in sanitation and safer food production in large factories, which worked to make things as quickly and cheaply as possible, while families still had staffs of cooks and butlers who created meals from scratch. A lot of our favorite treats - like the brownie and the Oreo - trace their roots back to this period, too!

Samantha was my sister's childhood doll, who was generously gifted over to me when I started working on the blog. Nellie was adopted from eBay in 2014.Their series is one of my favorites, and it's been a lot of fun to have them both in my collection!

Rebecca Rubin & Ana Rubin: New York City, New York 1914
Rebecca's New York wouldn't have been unrecognizable to Samantha or Nellie, but her perspective is certainly different. Growing up in a more working class neighborhood meant that Rebecca would have grown up eating not only traditional Russian or Jewish dishes, but food from other cultures, too, as more and more immigrants from Europe flooded into the United States. Balancing the old traditions with the more new fangled ideas would've been a difficult tightrope to balance for any young American, but there's no question that this was a time of change and lots of interesting food!

Rebecca was a belated birthday gift to myself in 2013. Rebecca was Emily's serious competition in terms of who was going to come home with me after graduation, and she's probably my overall favorite character AG has introduced since I fell out of touch with the company around Julie's introduction. Ana is an uncustomized Lea Clark doll I picked out at AG Boston in 2016 since AG never made a Best Friend doll of her and Lea looks just like her book illustrations!

Kit Kittredge & Ruthie Smithens: Cincinnati, Ohio 1934
The Great Depression caught families like the Kittredges off guard, leaving them worrying about keeping a roof over their heads and putting food on the table. Food from this period is often simple, and can seem a little bland, but there are a couple gems hiding in your 1930's cookbooks just waiting to be discovered. Waste not, want not is a good philosophy to live by then or now, and these families definitely learned how to be creative when it came to keeping their kids fed. Who would've ever thought about putting tomato soup in a cake?

Kit was picked up with the help of my first pay check from my first real job! The 1930's is one of my favorite eras to find recipes for, as most of them are pretty simple, relatively healthy, and not that expensive to recreate even in the modern day. Ruthie was found mislabeled on eBay in like new condition in 2016 for a really great bargain, so I couldn't help myself and snapped her up! With her purchase, I officially own all of the historical characters!

Molly McIntire & Emily Bennett: Jefferson, Illinois 1944
When World War II started, American families were better prepared than you might think. Coming right off the Great Depression meant that the average American was used to making do without much, and while it was frustrating to have things like meat and sugar rationed, you learned to live with it, even if you hated turnips like Molly! For families like Emily's in war torn Europe, it was much harder: rationing in Britain didn't end until the 1950's! When Emily came to live with the McIntires, she was surprised to see things like bananas, treats she hadn't had since the war started!

Molly was another of my sister's childhood dolls who has been adopted by me for the blog, and Emily was a college graduation present in 2013 and the doll that got me back into American Girl. World War II is my favorite era to study, and it's produced some of my favorite recipes I've made for the blog too! Expect a lot of war cake in those tags. It's delicious.

Maryellen Larkin: Daytona Beach, Florida 1954
The 1950's is a notorious era when it comes to recipes: the TV dinner, fast food and horrific gelatin creations are what most people think of when it comes to this era of post war opulence and worry about Communists infiltrating the government. But did you know this is also the era that made things like the red velvet cake, peanut blossoms and key lime pie popular around the country? Parts of the 50's might be scary, but so far, it looks like they're getting an unfairly bad rap.

Maryellen was picked out in person in New York on a trip with my grandma during her release weekend. I'd never been able to go to any sort of release event, and while it wasn't over the top exciting at the store, it was a lot of fun to get to share the experience with the person who's responsible for getting me into these dolls in the first place!

Melody Ellison: Detroit, Michigan 1964
The 1960's continued trends seen in the 50's and helped push along things to come in the 70's, but had their own unique flavors and recipes, too. Melody's family would have eaten processed and fresh foods, sharing their favorite recipes with their cousins who just moved up from the Deep South. The Civil Rights movement was fueled by classics like biscuits and gravy, coffee, Boston Coolers and - Martin Luther King's favorite - pecan pie, not to mention Rosa Parks' awesome peanut butter pancakes.

I got to get Melody from AG Place DC on her release day right before my classes started for grad school. Mine seems to have a flip that only wants to work on one side, which I think gives her a unique look and personality. It's been a lot of fun exploring all the different Civil Rights movement sites in DC with her!


Julie Albright & Ivy Ling: San Francisco, California 1974
Ah, the 70's. You can love them or hate them, but there's no denying that they're the beginning of a lot of the more health conscious trends we've seen in the modern era. This is the first generation of the smoothie, granola and vegetarianism, even though people were also snacking on incredibly bad for you processed treats as well. It was also an era that continued the trend of internationalism in American cooking and eating habits: it was now extremely common for families to dine out at Italian, Mexican or Chinese restaurants rather than turning up their nose at foreign food, a trend that had started to pick up momentum after World War II.

Julie and Ivy were both Christmas Gifts from my parents in 2013. My parents have been super supportive and enthusiastic about the blog, and so my mom made it pretty clear that I was going to be getting a doll for Christmas. Whether that was going to be Josefina, Caroline, Julie, Ivy or Kit was totally up in the air, but I was honestly only expecting one, and figured it would probably be Caroline or Julie based on a few hints I'd stumbled across. I was so surprised to open the package and discover Julie and Ivy! My mom likes to joke that Julie is basically the hipper, brown eyed version of her as a child, and I have totally fallen head over heels for Ivy. Julie also holds the record for hosting the most family recipes on the blog.

And then sometimes, I'll stumble upon a recipe that doesn't quite fit with any of the other characters, which means turning to these two. Kailey was my sister's last doll, and Grace was picked out in mid January at the New York Store because how could I not get the Girl of the Year who likes to bake?

Grace generally hosts posts that are baking related, while Kailey's my modern savory dish spokesperson. Even though we look and act nothing like the canon characters, I've kind of started to think of the two of them as representing my sister and me, and it's kind of fun to try out new, modern things every once and a while.

Guest Stars
Mia McBride & Essie Feldman: Brooklyn, New York 1942
Mia and Essie are two original characters who don't generally make appearances on the blog because their time period's already covered by Molly and Emily. Mia is an Irish American kid growing up in Brooklyn who meets Essie, a German Jew who was able to get out of Europe before things got really bad, but had to leave her brother and father behind. Essie is an uncustomized #41, and Mia is a Mia St. Clair with her braid taken out and dressed in period clothing. She is one of the Cousins of AGC.

Caroline Sledge: Mobile, Alabama 1933 & Lalie Shelton: New Orleans, Louisiana 1933
Caroline is another original character, who is the ten year old version of a fictional Navy nurse from World War II my girlfriend and I have written stories about. Her best friend Eulalie - a Lea doll with a Jess wig, based on another fictional Navy nurse - was an anniversary present for my girlfriend and is currently living in Australia with her. Caroline is an uncustomized #61 I picked out at AG Boston in 2016. I liked the way her head is tilted to one side - she had more personality than the other #61's at the store!

 Sue Nakamura: Honolulu, Hawaii 1943
Sue is a Nisei girl growing up in Hawaii during World War II. I'm still working out her character a bit, but I really wanted to explore what life was like for Japanese American citizens in Hawaii during the war because their experience was actually pretty different from Japanese Americans on the mainland. She was adopted from a member of AGC in 2016!

7 comments:

  1. Cool!!!!!!! I love this blog

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  2. Sharry from Julie Newman's 70's Time Capsule told me about your blog-what a cool idea! I was really surprised though when I went to see your dolls, and discovered you had a #55 and what her name was because I too have a #55, she is named Louisa Jane Collier!!! I wonder if perhaps they are related somehow???

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    1. Oh that's too funny!! What are the odds? Maybe she's my Jane's very distant granddaughter, ahaha. Glad you're enjoying the blog. :D

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  3. Dearest Jane,
    I too am learning of the hardships in the New World. Please come visit me in New England. You can find me in Plimoth, Providence and Rehoboth. Soon I will be visiting Salem. Or time travel to the future and visit me online at http://susannasadventuresintime.blogspot.com

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