Why I fucking love my Caboodle from 1988

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Vintage Caboodle from Etsy seller smilehood
Vintage Caboodle from Etsy seller smilehood

A few years ago, my father gave me a trunk that had been gathering dust in his storage shed.

“I think this is yours,” he said. I wasn’t sure, but I took it because I’m a pack rat and even if it wasn’t mine, doubtless there was something interesting inside.

And there was! Under my entire childhood collection of ElfQuest comics (!!!), I found a relic of my high school theater days — a vintage CABOODLES makeup case. It still had two yellow post-its taped onto the top that said “Ariel’s Makeup” and “Rum Tum Tugger! CATS,” relics from the last high school play I was in. (Assuming you ignore Jesus Christ Superstar, which I dropped out of because I had beef with the director and felt the whole show was miscast. YOU SHALL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH OF MY ANGST, HIGH SCHOOL THEATER DIRECTOR.)

If you are a woman of a certain age, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say CABOODLES. If you are not, here’s the short explanation: Caboodles were essentially tackleboxes for girls. They were just like tackleboxes except for they had rounded edges, often a built-in mirror, and were the most obnoxious colors of pink and turquoise and purple. Instead of tackle, you filled them with makeup.

After 14 years of dormancy, in the mid ’00s the Caboodles box went into heavy rotation as my festival makeup box. Who knew I had so many sparkly eye shadows? And who knew how well they all fit into the Caboodles’ compartments? Then, I shifted its use over to being a cash box for the Salon of Shame, the diary-reading series I produced for many years. It got used again just last month as the cash box at the Seattle Lovesick Expo.

Amusingly, Caboodles are totally still around. They’ve branched out, but have a “retro” line. HA!

The Caboodle is the most useful late ’80s relic ever.

Comments on Why I fucking love my Caboodle from 1988

  1. I now seriously wish I grew up as an 80s American girl so I could have one of these from my childhood 🙁 Perhaps I need to go to Ebay too!

  2. The one in the “classics” section on the website is the exactly model I owned in around 1998. But mine was green and glittery, so clearly cooler. This post makes me want to dig around in my parents’ house, where it is no doubt still on a shelf somewhere.

  3. This post & comments are making me feel so much better about holding on to mine since middle school! Now I may have to rethink my plan to gift it to my toddler-daughter.

  4. My purple glitter caboodle has always held painting supplies. Mostly because my makeup collection consists of… mascara and concealer, and barely anything else.

    • Just a side note. Yay Minimalist Make-up-ers! I have a small bag with go-to eyeshadow and the like, if I ever feel like i want to play dress-up (srsly). But really, I haven’t bought anything in that vein in years.

  5. Oh, I had forgotten about mine! It was a medium-sized pink and purple one that I used to store my school supplies in the ’90s, and always released a puff of sharpened-pencils scent when opened.

    Maybe it’s still in my parents’ attic somewhere…

  6. Got to say, I am rather glad to discover a Caboodle is some sort of box and not some sort of garage mummified dog. I was worried there for a minute.

  7. I have the original 1980’s rectangular Caboodle in peach, and it is still in use and sturdy as ever. There are photos of me having my makeup done in a school play with the Caboodle sitting next to me on a table. Caboodle for lyfe, yo.

  8. My brother just gave my four year old niece my aunt’s old caboodle for her barbie accessories. 3rd generation caboodle!

  9. Mine gathered dust, and was foisted on me whenmy parents sold their house to downsize. I had the big one too, turquoise, purple and magenta. The timing was perfect, a friend from my floral design class had bought one at a thrift store to hold her supplies. That’s what mine is used for, hold so much and keeps it all so well organized.

  10. I have three Caboodles in current rotation and, based on color combos and descriptions, I think they are 80’s ones. One has stage make-up, one has nail polish, and one has tea lite candles (far far too many), I have a few train cases as well – for street (vs. stage) make-up and for adult items. I can’t imagine what I would do without them!

  11. I still have my little caboodle from when I was a kid. And then a couple years ago I bought a “vintage” large one specifically for jewelry storage, the velvet insert for rings & earrings is still in prime condition. I love it & I need several more!!!

  12. I have two, and I’ve always used them for jewelry storage. It never occurred to me before now that they might have been intended to hold makeup, but now that I think about it the insert I use for rings is probably actually sized for lipsticks. I still have a lot more rings than lipsticks though.

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