Did Mattel release a Sugar Daddy Ken Doll?


Last Updated: October 30, 2023

Sugar Dating 101

There’s no doubt that we’re living in a Barbie moment. But even so, a Sugar Daddy Ken seems just too good to be true. Could it be that Mattel released a plastic icon for the sugaring community? Or is something else going on here?

Buckle up—in your sparkly pink Barbie convertible, of course!—and let’s take a wild ride through Ken’s brief history as a sugar daddy.

Meet Sugar Daddy Ken

In 2009, Mattel celebrated the 50th anniversary of Barbie with a line of new dolls that could be enjoyed by nostalgic adults. This exciting release had everything that Barbie fanatics could want, including one of Mattel’s most glamorous versions of Barbie, a real life Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse party, and a new $82 Ken edition that no one could have predicted.

The official name of this eyebrow-raising Ken was Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken. He was dressed to the nines in a lime green damask-printed jacket, a light-pink polo shirt, white pants, and white boat shoes. Even more surprisingly, he was styled to have a slightly older look, with combed-back graying-blonde hair and strong, Peter Gallagher-esque eyebrows.

From our perspective, this version of Ken perfectly encapsulates the stereotypical sugar daddy: wealthy, well-dressed, handsome, and mature. But, could Mattel have really intended Ken to be a sugar daddy?

Mattel’s version of the story

According to the official story from Mattel, our well-to-do Ken wasn’t actually envisioned as a sugar daddy. Instead, his name refers to his dog: a West Highland Terrier named Sugar. This Ken is one of the only editions in history to come with a canine companion.

So, that’s the twist! With the help of a very important apostrophe, our Sugar Daddy Ken becomes what Mattel claims they always intended: Sugar’s Daddy Ken!

Could it really have been an accident?

As you can imagine, not everyone was happy with the idea of a Sugar Daddy Ken, even if the toy was marketed towards a more adult audience. And Mattel’s explanation left many wondering, could this really have been an accident?

On the one hand, those of us with dogs often refer to ourselves as “pet parents.” But, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone at the dog park who would introduce him- or herself as “Fido’s Daddy” or “Mimi’s Mommy.”

There’s also the curious question of this Ken doll’s more sophisticated look. He’s a pretty big step away from Ken’s standard casual, beach-loving blonde vibe. In terms of style, wealth, and age, it’s hard to overlook the features that make Palm Beach Ken look so apt for the world of sugaring.

And finally, could Ken’s location be a nod to the fact that Florida is one of the most popular locations in the US for sugaring? Or is it simply an ode to Florida’s vibrant beach scene?

Of course, at the end of the day, we can only go by what Mattel says. And the farthest they would go was for spokesperson Michelle Chidoni to admit that, “While the name of the doll does refer back to the dog, I think people are going to interpret it as they want to interpret it.” We would guess that someone on the design team had to know that this doll would become an icon for the sugaring community!

Where Sugar Daddy Ken got his sense of style

So, where exactly did Sugar’s Daddy Ken derive his excellent wardrobe? As it turns out, it wasn’t from Palm Beach, but Palm Springs, instead!

His look seems to be almost entirely inspired by the 1970s photograph by Slim Aaron called “Palm Springs Party.” In this classic California photoshoot, you can see a typical Palm Springs gathering of socialites as they chat by the pool. One particular party-goer dons a slick outfit replicated by Palm Beach Sugar Daddy’s Ken. The look is so similar that it’s clear the Barbie designer was probably heavily influenced by this well-connected art subject.

Sugar Daddy Ken was discontinued, but his legacy lives on

You might have guessed already that the world in 2009 was not ready for a Sugar Daddy Ken. As a response to the uproar of angry consumers, the doll was quickly discontinued and pulled from the shelves.

But, that wasn’t the end for our iconic Ken! You might have seen him in the recent box-office success, Barbie the Movie, being played by Rob Byrdon. His cameo in the film not only delighted die-hard Barbie collectors, but also sparked renewed interest in the long-forgotten Ken. And Mattel even decided to re-release Sugar’s Daddy Ken! They made a few minor tweaks, such as lowering the price to $50 and giving this new version a more youthful look. But, as we in the sugaring community know, being a sugar daddy isn’t age-specific!

If you’re hoping to get your hands on this Ken and Westie, get ready to wait. He’s currently out of stock and the demand is high!

What Sugar’s Daddy Ken means for real-life sugar daddies


Sugar Daddy Ken may have felt like a joke for some and an outrage for others, but for people in The Bowl, he was a representation of changing views about sugaring. Every day, this lifestyle becomes more widely accepted and sought out by those curious about what being a sugar daddy or baby really means. So, every opportunity for visibility—even the tongue-in-cheek kind—can be interpreted as a win!

What are your thoughts on Sugar Daddy Ken? Were his designers really clueless to the fact that he would be misinterpreted as a sugar daddy? Or, was he intended as a thinly-veiled sugaring icon all along?

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