Mmm, Mmm, Good: One of the reasons that I read James Lileks is he reminds me about things I've forgotten. Recently, he took on the Campbell Kids. The Kids were especially well-known in Philadelphia because Campbell's Soup was just across the river in Camden, NJ. When I was growing up, the big tomato processing facility was located there as well. One of my high-school buddies, Eddie B., worked there unloading crates of Jersey tomatoes during the big August harvest. At the time, he lived in Pennsauken, not far from the Camden plant.
James Lileks asked, "What kid would ever want to play with the Campbell Kids?" Why not? Well, as James wrote, just "imagine yourself being chased by one of the Campbell Kids, its lidless eyes wide and startling. And needing."
When you think about it (and I must admit that I hadn't done so before), they are kinda creepy. And what's the message from these chubby-faced children, anyway? Is it that too much soup makes your face fat?
The Kids consist of two boys and a girl. The boys looked a little light in the loafers and dressed like they were from 1920s Europe. Could they have been relatives of that chubby German exchange student, Üder, on 'The Simpsons'? In the episode where all the teachers at Springfield Elementary turned into cannibals, the cafeteria celebrated Octoberfest by featuring "Üderbratten."
And what about the Campbell girl? Did she look any better as a teenager? Probably not. What would you have done if she came up and asked you to her Junior Prom? Run, probably.
My daughter had Campbell Kids dolls as a toddler; she said that they weren't her favorite, remarking, "Those Campbell Kids' eyes are even more whacked out than I remember - i.e. - "I will eat nothing but Campbell soup for the rest of my life ..." said in a tranced voice. LOL."
Campbell's was started in 1869 by Joseph A. Campbell in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The firm produced canned tomatoes, vegetables, jellies, soups, condiments, and minced meats. Bridgeton and nearby Vineland were farm towns, best known for grapes, tomatoes and poultry. As the business grew, it moved to Camden, NJ.
The Campbell Soup Kids first appeared in 1905, when the company was still called the Joseph Campbell Company. They first appeared on the sides of streetcars and in magazine advertisements. They were so popular that the company licensed their images for dolls and other merchandise. The Campbell Kids were the Cabbage Patch Kids of the Teddy Roosevelt era.
Campbell's official line is that "the main object-in-life of these rollicking youngsters is to remind you of Campbell's Tomato Soup. To remind you that it is good for your own young people as well as the older ones; that its lively and enticing flavor adds to the enjoyment of life just as its wholesome equality helps you to promote good digestion and robust health." M-kay.
I'll end this soliloquy with a Little Known Fact: Ronald Reagan was a spokesman for V8 Juice when Campbell's acquired the brand in 1948. And that's the truth. (posted 1/12/18, permalink)