Disney Once Made Snow White Bleach And More Weird Princess Merchandise

Disney Once Made Snow White Bleach And More Weird Princess Merchandise

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Besides Mickey, Disney’s most iconic characters are probably the Disney princesses.

From Cinderella and her missing slipper to the feisty mermaid Ariel, the Disney princess is a Disney staple, despite only being officially codified into a “Disney Princess” brand in the 2000s. The criteria for who becomes a Disney princess are vague (although Anna and Elsa, for example, are both royalty, they are technically not Disney princesses because they are the face of their own brand). But one thing is certain: Disney’s princesses have always been hugely popular.

In Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara, author Emily Zemler explores the Disney Princess phenomenon and delves into the films introducing the characters, the actors behind them, and their cultural legacy. Polygon is happy to share an exclusive snippet about the princess who started it all.

You could attribute Disney’s ever-expanding trade lines as a 21st century phenomenon, but it was actually Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarfs kicking off Disney’s aggressive product marketing. In an unprecedented move for the time, snow white tie-ins started rolling out before the movie came out. Overall, there were about 2,000 Snow White themed products — which is a lot, even by today’s standards. Read below for a glimpse of the strange Snow White merchandise Disney grown-ups used to crave.


Image: Disney

a page from Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara.  most of it is text, but there's an old black and white ad for Snow White bleach and ammonia, and a cooking magazine ad for Snow White themed ham

Image: Disney

a page from Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara.  most of it is text, but at the top is an image of marionette puppets, themed Snow White, the Dwarves, the Evil Queen, the Prince, and the Hunstman.  on the left is a porcelain snow white doll

Image: Disney

A Disney character in every home

In 1932, Walt and Roy O. Disney hired Herman S. Kamen, an advertising executive known as Kay Kamen, as the merchandising man for Mickey Mouse. Over the next three years, Kamen oversaw the creation of thousands of pieces of Mickey Mouse merchandise, from wristwatches to cereal to figurines. He worked with manufacturers and department stores to ensure that Disney characters were known in the lives of American audiences, creating a demand for branded items and an expectation that those products would also be constantly available. It was a strategy that became commonplace throughout Hollywood. “Kay Kamen invented the whole licensing industry,” said Tom Tumbusch, publisher of Tomarts Disneyana Update. “Not just for Disney, just; others followed.”

One year before the release of Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarfs, Kamen began preparing an extensive marketing campaign aimed at bringing the film’s story and characters to their audiences’ homes. Traditionally, movie merchandise was revealed after a movie’s release, and only if the story was popular and resonated with audiences; snow white marked the first time movie merchandise was available before anyone had even seen the movie. In October 1937, months before the premiere of snow white, toys and themed items appeared on store shelves. Seiberling Latex Products Co., which had previously made Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck figurines, made hand-painted rubber figurines of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which became so popular that they sold out several times even before the film’s release. . Seiberling soon realized it needed to ramp up production to prepare for the film’s release. In total, more than 2,000 products were made for Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarfs.

“Walt saw an opportunity to make merchandise available before a movie hit theaters to get his version of the characters in front of people so they were ready for that movie,” explains Libby Spatz, senior librarian and archivist for Disney Consumer Products. from. “This changed the entertainment merchandising business structure. Suddenly there was more talk about movies, about what was to come, about the characters. People got used to having the merchandise available once they realized the movie was something they were interested in.

The amount of Snow White themed merchandise was staggering, even by today’s standards. Consumers could buy everything from Snow White watering cans to carpet sweepers to household bleach and ammonia to Armor’s specially branded Star Jubilee Ham and Star Bacon. Kroger’s grocers sold an exclusive set of collectible glasses, while Swift’s Allsweet Margarine ran a campaign where fans could send pack clippings along with ten cents to receive Snow White seed packs. There were wristwatches, cut-out books, coloring sets, children’s blocks, doll-shaped soap, board games, paper dolls, and even a lamp with the princess standing over her wishing well. It was proof that when faced with the choice between an ordinary product and an experience product, consumers would always choose magic.

Previously, several companies, including the Knickerbocker Toy Company and Richard G. Krueger, had sold Disney dolls, from Mickey Mouse to Little Red Riding Hood. The arrival of Snow White, a charming, beautiful princess, meant many Snow White dolls, most of which were released in 1938. Ideal Toy Company manufactured three different editions of Snow White in doll form, one of which was made using the brand’s Shirley Temple. head form, and Richard G. Krueger Company sold cloth dolls with velvet and organdy dresses. Madame Alexander, a doll maker known for high-end fashion dolls, has a series of Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarfs puppets in 1938, featuring Snow White and all seven dwarfs, as well as the Evil Queen, the Witch, the Charming Prince, and the Hunter. In 1939, the Snow White puppet, whose head was designed by illustrator Tony Sarg, was advertised as having sold for $3.65. Various types of paper dolls, with cut-out dresses, were also particularly popular with consumers at the time.

Games were also a must-have for fans of the film. Several Snow White board games were produced, including Parker Brothers’ Walt Disney’s Own Game – Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, a Candyland-style board game where players rush to wake up Snow White. There were also playing cards, puzzles and card games. The film products offered plenty of opportunities for lovers of Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarfs to enjoy their favorite movie characters at home, putting Disney on a path to showcase merchandise for each new movie release with increasing fervor.

Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara is out now.

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