American Girl dolls have been making appearances lately on TikTok and other social media platforms — but in meme format.

The Smithsonian Magazine described the new American Girl doll meme this way: “The formula goes like this: ‘We need an American Girl doll who …’ lived through situations ranging from historically significant to hilariously obscure.” Distractify compiled 10 of the best of these memes, showing the full range that this trend encompasses.

But these memes have also poked fun at modern culture. La Croix has been popular for a few years now (most recently because a TikToker mixed it with balsamic vinegar and called it “healthy coke”) and popular American Girl doll meme maker @hellicity_merriman has made several La Croix American Girl Doll memes.

This meme format is so popular that The Washington Post published an opinion piece by Christine Emba with the title, “We need an American Girl doll who hasn’t given up.”

The idea of American Girl dolls lends itself to this meme format. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the founder of the American Girl company was Pleasant Rowland, an educator and entrepreneur whose dolls based on historical figures became popular because they were well-researched and relatable.

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Selling dolls with accompanying novels — like Kit Kittredge, who grew up during the Great Depression, and Melody Ellison, a singer and voice for justice — the American Girl business model is to make relatable, historical dolls. Even before they were a meme, public historians like Rebekkah Rubin used American Girl dolls to teach history.

American Girl dolls have garnered a collective nostalgia. Last year in June, the Smithsonian Magazine reported on this phenomenon, pointing to the floods of social media posts in response to the company announcing the rerelease of six previously archived dolls.

Commenting on this, public historian Dominique Jean-Louis said that the timing of the brand’s debut contributed to its continued success. “It was really a moment in the ’90s, with that early sense of girls can do history, too, or girls can be part of history, too,” she said, per the Smithsonian Magazine. “(American Girl) really instilled in you a sense that girlhood is universal.”

The memes seem to have a similar effect. Tara Strauch, who is a historian at Centre College, wrote in The New York Times, “Within the world of these memes, there is nothing the world won’t throw at an American Girl doll, and there is nothing she can’t do. She, a representation of the childhoods of countless girls, can succeed where others have failed.”

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