The My Cabbages Guy is one of the most recognizable and lovable characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Much like the My Leg Fish from Spongebob Squarepants. And just like the My Leg Fish, he has a name and a story.
I'm serious, this isn't even the speculation part. Both these characters have a story to tell.
My Leg Fish is actually named Fred Rechid. He's a janitor and a cameraman. He's had three wives. He has three children. He's the fish with the quotable moment of, "Hey all you people, hey all you people, won't you listen to me!" And in case you were wondering, he also hurt his eyes at one point, during The Spongebob Squarepants Movie to be exact.
My Cabbages Guy doesn't have a name. He's referred to as the Cabbage Merchant. After all his failing and upsetting endeavors with Team Avatar, he knew a lot about them. If you remember that play that the group saw in the Fire Nation, then you should know the playwright got that information from "a surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage". After continued failures, he established Cabbage Corps, a company made to build and manufacture automobiles and other technologies. His son, Lau Gan-Lan, took over the company.
So, what I want to know, is who the Cabbage Merchant was before all of this. Before Cabbage Corps. Before the his restaurant (yes, he had a restaurant, this is canon). Before the avatar returned. Before his carts were destroyed. Before he even had the carts.
Who is the Cabbage Merchant?
The Cabbage Merchant was alive through The Hundred Year War. Not for its entirety, but a good portion of it. He was an elderly man when Aang came onto the scene. He believed his entire life would be surrounded by war, death and famine.
The Cabbage Merchant was born and raised in the Agrarian Zone of Ba Sing Se. When he turned eighteen (now a successful apprentice of a merchant in the Middle Ring), Iroh and the Fire Nation arrived.
Living in the Agrarian Zone, he was closest to the battle for the six hundred days that it occurred. All his friends and his brother went to fight against the Fire Nation. He wanted to join them, to help in the effort, but he had obligations to his master.
As the war went on, his father also had to enter battle. It was just him and his mother at home, and he was constantly going to the Middle Ring to work with his master. His master sold food to the people of Ba Sing Se so they had a lot of work to do.
One day, he woke up early, said goodbye to his mother, and went to the Middle Ring to meet up with his master. Halfway through the day, the sound of screams, explosions, the smell of fire, and the sudden panic that ran through the city that day reached them in the Middle Ring.
Looking to the sky, there was a plume of smoke that came from the Agrarian Zone. In the direction of his house. His master told him not to leave, but he didn't listen.
He ran from the Middle Ring, to the Lower Ring, all the way to the Agrarian Zone. Smoke, fire, soot, dust, and screams filled the air. He coughed all the way through the Agrarian Zone, pushing against the crowd running out of the Agrarian Zone until he found his collapsed house.
He ran into the rubble and started digging until he found his mom. He tore against the stone. Pulled at the wood. Kicked around the glass. The skin on his hands whittled away and his arms were covered in dust. His lungs ached from the smoke. He finally pulled the rock off of the body that used to be his mother.
He lost control and started screaming, crying, sobbing. He shook uncontrollably. He was inconsolable. That's when he saw the General of the Fire Nation. General Iroh, son of Azulon and Ilah, grandson of Sozin, brother of Ozai, and crowned prince of the Fire Nation. He stood in a ring of fire ready to attack the general who was protecting the outer wall.
The Cabbage Merchant watched in anger as the Earth Kingdom general of the outer wall surrendered. General Iroh and his men slowly overtook the Agrarian Zone. For the rest of the Siege of Ba Sing Se, the Cabbage Merchant was under their rule. He didn't see his brother or his father anywhere. He couldn't even bury his mother, she was burned in a mass funeral pyre along with several other bodies, Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation alike.
When the Fire Nation finally retreated, the Cabbage Merchant couldn't get up. He sat in a huddled mass staring at the dust. He knew he should've been happy. He knew he should be celebrating with the others, but he couldn't.
In the next few hours, bodies were reclaimed, identified, and the body count was revealed. Among the names on the list of deceased were both his parents. His brother fell among the missing. And all of his friends were either killed in battle or still considered missing in action.
When someone came through bringing food to the survivors, a hand touched his shoulder. He looked up and saw his master. His face was hard and his jaw clenched. But he held out a singular cabbage to the Cabbage Merchant.
The young merchant accepted his master's gift, stood up and helped him distribute the food to the other survivors.
As Ba Sing Se rebuilt, the merchant told his master that he couldn't stay there any longer. The master understood and said goodbye to the poor soul that was once his apprentice.
As the young Cabbage Merchant left the city, he found himself trying to figure out what to do with himself. After the horrors he seen, he wanted to do something that would make him happy. There was only one time that he was happy in Ba Sing Se that mattered to him. The time with his family before all of it happened. And could you figure out what the crop they grew on their farm was?
The Cabbage Merchant left the city and got himself a cart, a new plot of land and a new crop of cabbages. He put together his business and traveled the world.
After seeing all that death and destruction, the Cabbage Merchant sought a way to move on. He decided on a peaceful life selling cabbages throughout the Earth Kingdom.
When Team Avatar would destroy his cart, he would be upset but wouldn't do anything to reprimand them. Those cabbages were all he had left which is why he cared so much for them.
After what he'd been through, after what he'd witnessed, he was once again able to find something he loved. It was destroyed, ransacked and infested by cabbage slugs. Yet he loved it and returned to it all the same. Because for him, cabbages were a symbol of hope. The first food he ate after the Siege of Ba Sing Se. A constant reminder of the family and friends he once had, and once again can have.
Too bad his son has some issues of his own.