The History and Legacy of Betsy Wetsy

Betsy Wetsy was a drink and wet doll that urinated after liquid poured into her mouth. This doll was initially produced by the Ideal Toy Company of New York in 1934. She became one of the most popular toys of its kind in the post-World War ll baby boom era. Betsy Wetsy was one of the first baby dolls to be made in African American versions. The doll was made with molded plastic hair, wigs, or plugged hair in the colors of brown, red, or blonde. Her arms and legs were jointed, and she had deep blue sleep eyes with long eyelashes. The doll came with bottles, a plastic bathtub, and a layette.

The doll had previously been manufactured by Effanbee called “Dy-Dee.” However, a patent infringement lawsuit resulted. The judge ruled that urinating and drinking were natural movements and cannot be patented. Betsy Wetsy was named after the daughter of Abraham Katz who was the head of Ideal Toy Company of New York.

The doll was made in several sizes throughout the 1940’s but didn’t reach full popularity until the 1950’s. A version made in China was marketed in the 1980’s by Ideal intending to boost sales. However, they never saw the success of the original doll.

Despite Betsy never picking up the original sales, she did leave a legacy. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Betsy Wetsy on its Century of Toys List. This list commemorates the 100 most memorable toys of the 20th century. Doing a google search of Betsy Wetsy will provide you with a few options to still purchase the doll. The cost of the doll ranges depending on the year and the condition. A very early 1930’s version exists for purchase at $168. There is no 1940’s version that shows for sale, the rest listed are 1950’s and 60’s. There is no doubt that this doll inspired other’s and perhaps even some that are popular today.