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That time Mattel made a gay Ken doll then freaked out when everyone else freaked out

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For decades, Mattel has struggled with how to package its Ken dolls. To this day, execs have never quite figured out how to market him in a way that appeals to little girls.

When it comes to advertising to gay men, however, they’ve had the market cornered since the early ’90s.Earring Magic Ken was first introduced by Mattel in 1992.Related: PHOTOS: Barbie’s Dream Nightmare — Ken’s Gay AffairThe doll featured a “trendy” new look, including streaky blonde highlights, a pink mesh top, lavender vest, a necklace with a circular, ahem, charm and, as his name indicates, an earring in his left ear.He was meant to be the male counterpart to Earring Magic Barbie, one of six dolls in the Earring Magic Barbie line.The whole idea came after Mattel conducted a survey asking little girls about their thoughts on Ken.

The company found that its customers still wanted Ken around, but that they wished he looked a little “cooler.”So they created Earring Magic Ken.Related: PHOTOS: Barbie’s Gonna Flip When She Sees What Ken And His Buddies Are Up ToBut as soon as the doll was released, people immediately pointed out that he looked, well, kinda gay.

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