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The High-Roller Stroller Arms Race

I had a happy thought about the sucky economy this past week. This might spell the end of the High-Roller Stroller Arms Race.

The evil marketing genius who discovered that vulnerable new parents would spend the price of a crappy used car to buy their precious little one a souped-up ride should be trampled and left flattened on the sidewalk by the pimp-my-stroller brigade.

These status strollers just get more and more ridiculous. They rank right up there with first-world embarrassments like pet strollers for yappy dogs and those obnoxious 4WD ride-on toys that parents buy for their tot snobs. People, this is just a box on wheels to push your baby in, right? You can't tell me that my $49.99 Graco two-piece job can't get it done like the upscale Stokke Xplory stroller ($999-$1,199). Sure, the dinky Norwegian post-modern, ten-speed-looking version raises a kid closer to his loving, materialistic parents, but it also looks like a car seat balancing on an IV pole, and it has no giant storage bins or cupholders. Where am I going to put my Pabst Blue Ribbon?

As in all things criminally overpriced, we must blame Sex in the City. In 2002, Cynthia Nixon rolled out the Dutch-designed Bugaboo Frog ($699) and suddenly swank strollers became an economic indicator on par with a pair of Manolo Blahniks. You weren't trendy enough – and certainly didn't love your baby enough – if you weren't on the waiting list for high-style wheels with German engineering that cost double what the rest of us were schlepping behind. Last year, the Sex movie raised the baby bling bar by flashing shots of the Stokke Xplory at Charlotte's baby shower. The message to new mommies was clear: If your friends aren't willing to gift you a grand's worth of sweet rims then they really don't care about you.

We may have just topped out on this trend. This past year has seen the Kid Kustoms Classic Series Black Roddler ($2,500), with chrome trim fenders, color-coded rims, brake lights, leather upholstered bucket seat, DVD entertainment system, iPod dock and Bluetooth speakers. There's also the totally impractical, old-fashioned Silver Cross Balmoral pram ($1,995-$3,000), pushed by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Richie, Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Will the Dow doom this droolicious buggie madness? Or are we all headed to hell in a Kate Spade Maclaren?

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