Image Credit: ‘Barbie,’ Warner Bros. Pictures

This weekend, we’re all living our fantastic life in plastic with Greta Gerwig’s Barbie finally in theaters.

From the pretty pink visuals to the soundtrack of wall-to-wall pop bangers to the stitch-perfect costuming to the performances (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Ryan Gosling’s Ken Doll belt his heart out), it’s a cinematic sensory overload in the best way—the kind so stuffed with ideas and details and gags, you’ll probably want to see it again just to catch everything.

But there’s one gag in particular we at Queerty had to know more about, one that’s super gay and—as it turns out—a real part of Barbie history…

*Very minor spoilers ahead for Barbie, but here’s a head’s up just in case!*

After her trip to the real world, Barbie (Margot Robbie) is back in BarbieLand having an existential crisis while Ken (Gosling) spreads the good word of patriarchy to his fellow Kens.

She takes refuge at the home of “Weird Barbie” (Kate McKinnon, hilariously bringing to life that one doll we all played with too hard), where a small collection of Mattel misfits have gathered—some of strangest and most ill-conceived dolls in Barbie brand history, all of which have been discontinued.

Among the group are two Kens from bygone eras, and the movie stops just short of outright calling them “gay Kens,” but come on—look at them! They are so gay.

One is Earring Magic Ken— a doll we’ve previously written about on this very site—who was introduced in 1992 in an attempt to make Ken look “cooler.” (And for some reason also came with a c*ck ring????)

And beside him is none other than Sugar Daddy Ken.

Yup, you read that right… Sugar Daddy Ken. As the movie points out, he technically should be called Sugar’s Daddy Ken—because he’s the daddy to a dog named Sugar, you see?—but he’s not. He’s Sugar Daddy Ken.

If you watched that moment and thought it was too weird and specific to not be based on a real-life doll crafted by Mattel, well… you’d be right.

The real story behind Barbie’s Sugar Daddy Ken

Image Credit: Palm Springs Sugar Daddy Barbie, Mattel

Despite his rather retro look, Sugar Daddy Ken is a relatively recent creation; he’s from 2009, to be exact, the year of Barbie’s 50th anniversary.

To mark the occasion, Mattel released a series of special-edition dolls—the Gold Label Collection—which was aimed at adult collectors instead of children.

Originally retailing for $82, Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken (to use his proper full name) exuded southeast Florida flair with a snazzy lime green damask blazer, a pink polo, white pleated dress slacks, and some boating shoes to match. As a piece in Women’s Wear Daily points out, the look is likely a reference one featured in photographer Slim Aaron’s portrait titled “Palm Springs Party.” (Check out the guy on the right, eh?)

Image Credit: ‘Palm Springs Party,’ Slim Aarons | Getty Images

And you know this beach-bound daddy came with an outfit change: Floral swim trunks, some fashionable flip-flops, and a stylish pair of sunglasses. Come on in, Ken—the water’s fine!

Now, over the years, Ken Dolls have been no strangers to flamboyant fashions (just look at Magic Erring Ken’s purple denim vest!), but there’s something a little… different about this one, no? His hair is even more silvery than Ken’s usual bright blond look—he’s a proper daddy!

Plus, there’s Sugar, a tiny toy dog who’s likely a Yorkshire Terrier (we’re no dog breed experts), complete with a pretty pink leash. Make no mistake: Ken’s not walking that dog for Barbie—that’s daddy’s special girl right there!

This doll just screams gay, doesn’t he? And, besides, 2009 is just far too recent for Mattel to play naive and pretend they didn’t know what they were doing here, right? Right?

Well, according to a piece from the New York Post in ’09, the company line was that the doll was strictly meant to exemplify “fantastic Palm Beach fashion,” which a spokesperson reiterated was targeted toward adults.

When asked what Mattel meant to imply with the doll’s name, the spokesperson replied, “The little dog’s name is actually Sugar. That’s where the name comes from. He’s Sugar’s daddy, as a reference to the dog.”

It’s an answer so hilariously dry that Gerwig’s Barbie basically uses it wholesale to explain away this specific Ken’s strange name, earning one of the movie’s biggest laughs.

By the way, Barbie’s Sugar Daddy Ken is played by U.K. comedian and actor Rob Brydon, perhaps best known stateside for his comedic travel series, The Trip, with Steve Coogan—and his killer Michael Caine impression.

When Brydon posted from the London premiere of the film, saying he was playing the “pivotal role” of Sugar Daddy Ken, fans thought it was a joke. Turns out, it was a joke—one of the funniest in a very, very funny movie.

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