UFDC Museum Exhibit – Meet the Campbell Kids and Other Creations of Grace Drayton

The UFDC Museum is proud to host a special exhibit featuring the artwork and original designs from illustrator Grace Drayton, who created the famous Campbell Soup Kids. The Campbell Soup Company starting using her illustrations in 1904 to appeal to children. The Campbell Soup Kids first appeared in 1905, when the company was still called the Joseph Campbell Company.

The first Campbell Kids were drawn by Grace Drayton, a prodigious illustrator and staff artist for the Philadelphia Press and Evening Journal, She was also a children’s book illustrator. Her husband, Theodore Wiederseim, who worked for the Ketterlineus Lithographic Manufacturing Company in Philadelphia, recommended her services to Campbell, primarily because she had been drawing cute, round-faced and rosy cheeked children for years. All she had to do was change her drawings slightly to fit what Campbell was looking for, and they became the basis for the Campbell Kids.

Campbell Soup Exhibit UFDC Museum The Campbell Kids were something of a phenomenon in their hey-day. Starting in 1905, they first appeared on the sides of streetcars and in magazine advertisements, first in black and white, and later in full color. They were so cute that the company licensed the E.I. Horsman Company to make dolls in their likeness. Little known fact is there were more than the 2 or 3 you may remember. There were actually upwards of 16 kids. The dolls were so popular with the public that other companies rushed to create campaigns utilizing round-faced, rosy cheeked children. 

Most adults today remember the kids wearing chef’s clothes. This started in 1928, when the American Character Doll Company took over the rights for making the dolls. Through it all, the kids appeared on anything and everywhere, such as balloons, calendars, canisters, cards, clocks, cookbooks, cookie jars, games, decals, dishes, hats, lamps, buttons, lunch boxes, mugs, napkins, ornaments, playing cards, pins, plates, posters, T-shirts thermoses, toys, watches, and many, many other items. Up until 1921, the kids would appear in pretty much every advertisement Campbell ran.

The UFDC Museum is proud to host the Campbell Kids Special Exhibit. We owe a huge thank you to Ursula Mertz, who graciously provided the memorabilia, books, and dolls from her private collection. We are also pleased to announce that she will give a presentation on Grace Drayton on March 23rd, 2018, the final day of this exhibit.

The United Federation of Doll Clubs Museum, located in Kansas City, MO near the Kansas City Airport, is the country’s premier doll Museum – featuring contemporary dolls as well as dolls dating back to the 18th century. Please plan a visit during the holidays!


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