Advertising dolls provide an interesting look at the history of consumer products in America. Who remembers Force cereal, Blatz beer or Fletcher's Castoria? But through their advertising and trademark characters, these products will live forever.
Most advertising dolls are made of cloth, simple "pancake" dolls with one piece for the front and one for the back, stitched together and stuffed. Some were printed on fabric and sold by the piece, to be stitched and stuffed at home. But there are advertising dolls of all materials, including vinyl, hard plastic, composition and even cast iron.
There are several types of advertising dolls. The most popular and familiar dolls promote the company's trademark character. This might be Tony the Tiger for Frosted Flakes cereal; the Campbell Kids for Campbell's Soup; or Aunt Jemima for the pancake mix made by Quaker Oats. Another type of advertising doll is the licensed doll. This doll, like Ideal's Miss Revlon or Toni by Ideal and American Character, incorporates the name and concept of the product without actually being used in the company's own advertising. The least desirable type of advertising doll is the premium doll, which is used by the company to sell product ("Send in 3 boxtops and 25 cents") but otherwise has no connection to the product. One example of this type is the Fun Fair clown offered by Kelloggs in 1973. A fourth type of advertising doll, and the hardest to find, are the dolls that were not made available to the general public, but used solely as display pieces in stores. One example is the RCA Victor "Sellin' Fool" doll made to be displayed in RCA dealerships in the '20s. The doll was based on an illustration by Maxfield Parrish and is very hard to find today.
Advertising dolls are still being sold today, although they are far more likely to take the form of teddy bears than dolls.
Click on a photo to view a larger image.
||Two slightly different variations of the Ceresota Boy from 1912, advertising the company's flour. This is a cut and sew doll, beautifully printed in oil colors. His hat brim gives three dimensional interest.|
|Kellogg's 10" Johnny Bear dates from 1926. The cut and sew panel was available for 10 cents plus one box top from Kellogg's cereals. He was part of a set with Goldilocks, Papa Bear and Mama Bear.|
|Aunt Jemima is one of the most recognizable trademark characters in American history. She and her family have been made in doll form since 1895. This cut and sew version is from 1929.|
||This rare Hotpoint character has a composition head and segmented wood body. He was probably made by Cameo, as they made other dolls in this style. He dates from about 1930 and may have been a store display or promotional doll.|
|Freckles the Frog and Dinkey the Dog are from a 1935 series of four animal cut-and-sew dolls. The others are Dandy the Duck and Crinkles the Cat. They were available from Kellogg's for 10 cents plus one Wheat Krispies box top each, or 25 cents and four box tops for the whole set. Each doll is about 12" tall.|
|Kleeko the Eskimo was the trademark character for Cliquot Club beverages. This doll is stuffed vinyl fabric, date unknown, but probably mid-twentieth century.|
|Colgate Palmolive's 8" Fab Picture Doll was a premium for Fab Detergent. She was available for $1 plus one Fab box top in 1957.|
|Gillette licensed the name of its Toni home permanent twice to doll companies. The first Toni doll (shown left) was a hard plastic girl doll made by Ideal in the early fifties. The second doll was a vinyl glamour doll made by American Character in the late fifties. Both dolls were sold in several sizes, and came with a Toni playwave kit for styling the doll's hair. The 10" version (shown right) of the American Character Toni had many extra outfits which could be purchased separately.|
|The Janzten Girl was a 10.5" vinyl high heeled doll sold by Valentine in 1957 as a tie in to Jantzen clothing. She came with a complete wardrobe of clothing.|
|Ideal's Revlon doll (shown left), available in four sizes, and 10" Little Miss Revlon (shown right) licensed the name of the cosmetics line in the late 1950s. They are very high quality dolls, and were widely imitated.|
|Miss Babbitt is a strange doll that combines a hard plastic Ginny-type head on a slim vinyl fashion doll body. She was offered by Bab-O Cleanser in the early sixties.|
|15" vinyl doll made by Uneeda in 1964 for Vermont Maid Syrup. She is marked "U // 16" on the back of her head.|
|This bizarre cloth doll from 1968 was one of four offered by the Brunswick Corporation to promote bowling.|
|This is the first version of Tony the Tiger, offered by Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes in 1970. He is 13" tall with a fabric head and furry body.|
||Gilbert Giddyup is a stuffed cloth doll that was available from Hardee's restaurants in 1971.|
||Campbell Kids dolls have been made in many different materials over several decades. This pair of 10" vinyl dolls dates from 1971.|
|Kellogg's offered three different Fun Fair Clowns as premiums in 1973.|
||17" Tropic-Ana cloth doll was offered for $2.00 on cartons of orange juice in 1977.|
Sources for this page include:
Copyright 2006-09 by Zendelle Bouchard.