Who were the Campbell Kids? Find out about the vintage cartoon mascots for Campbell’s Soup

John Alcorn's vintage psychedelic Campbell's Tomato Soup Poster

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Remember the Campbell Kids? They appeared in Campbell’s Soup advertising for decades, always with those little round faces. The little boys and girls were featured on products of every kind, from soup mugs to play sets to board games

Here, see dozens of examples of these cute little characters, find out how they were born, and meet the artist!

How the Campbell’s Kids were created

Grace Drayton adds art to her writing (1924)

From The Tampa Bay Times (Florida) September 14, 1924

Even as a child, Philadelphia miss drew pictures of children and won favors of critics

Grace Drayton, popularly known as the “Kiddie artist” and writer of verse, is more than that, for she draws many pretty girls which are used on magazine covers and is one of the most successful of the many women designers of today.

Vintage Campbell Kids placecards from the 1930s (5)

Grace Drayton, as Grace Gebbie of Philadelphia, at the age of five years declared that her face was her fortune when speaking to a man who inquired regarding her first caricature.

Grace Gebbie, by using a circle for a head, two smaller circles for eyes and a little circle for a nose, an “H” with curved uprights for a mouth, drew a face modeled after her own at the age of five.

She spent much time drawing faces and figures of little boys and girls, many with chubby arms and legs like her own. She distinguished between boys and girls by changing the clothes.

Vintage Campbell Kids placecards from the 1930s (1)

Fortunate in her father

Grace Gebbie was fortunate in having for a father, a prominent Philadelphia publisher and engraver, which of course meant that she had books and pictures which he could study as a source of inspiration.

Her mother gave to her a quick wit and deep sense of human sympathy known to those from the Emerald Isle. She also had many artist uncles, and thus just grew up naturally to be an artist.

Grace Gebbie Drayton
Grace Gebbie Drayton

Sir John, a painter friend, told Grace to make her eyes look like oysters, and drew an eye for her which he asked that she copy and have perfect at the end of a week. He also told her to draw another eye beside the copy, thus teaching her to model her eye for future drawings. 

From this friend, Sir John, Grace learned that there was a chance to improve upon her circles for faces, and she gained a new appreciation of the value of better drawing.

Vintage Campbell Kids placecards from the 1930s (2)

Spent teens in convent

Grace’s teens were spent in a convent where she was under discipline and learned to concentrate. Her imagination worked overtime, and she studied every child she met for suggestions to be used in her drawings.

She learned the child mind and its reactions; the eyes which would penetrate with wide-open orbs, perfectly saint-like, and the brain behind working at triple speed, the child at play, sleep and its world of make-believe. She learned particularly the child with hurt feelings.

Seymour Eaton, next door neighbor, editor of the then Booklover’s Magazine, had been watching Grace’s progress. She showed him one of her latest conceits and asked him to publish them. He told her he would like to, but could not pay for them as the magazine was new.

Two pages were prepared in the magazine and a small story published about the artist. 

Vintage Campbell Kids placecards from the 1930s (3)

Ada Paterson of the New York American was attracted by the drawings in the Booklover’s, and went to Philadelphia to arrange a two-year contract for drawings to be used in the New York paper.

Grace then made some drawings for Force and Hornby’s Oatmeal and the Locomobile. A cover design by her was used on Truth.

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Grace Gebbie learned of the large appropriation made by Campbell’s to advertise the soup made by them. Many artists and lithographic concerns began working overtime on ideas at the same time that Grace began a drawing, at the suggestion of a salesman of a lithographic concern.

She made several drawings and none pleased her, but as the salesman was leaving, she gave him two further efforts, a boy and girl holding a can of soup.

The salesman arranged to telegraph the news regarding the Campbell awards.

A telegram as follows was received by Grace: “Your Campbell kids were the only drawings considered and accepted.”

This not only meant a big commission but an honor, and the start of a career that was to lead to many new adventures in drawings and verse that have been used the world over.

She began her career under the professional name of Grace Wiederseim.

Vintage Campbell Kids placecards from the 1930s (4)

Was kept busy then

Grace was kept busy developing ideas after suggesting that the Campbell Kids get “on to” everything, “into” everything and “be” everywhere,

These conceits were turned into rag dolls which found their way into thousands of homes. She then wrote storybooks and magazine articles which she illustrated. The “Jumble Book,” the “Kiddie Bunny,” and the “Dolly Dingle Travel and Opera Books” and the “Tiny Tots” were a few of those that appeared.

Grace changed her name to Drayton when she married, and under this name is as widely known as under the other of Wiederseim.

Paperweight kiddies, book ends for children’s books, (kitten, bear and doggie) door stoppers for the nursery, kiddie lamps, Drayton Kid postcards and nursery wall decorations of Kiddie Kids are a few of the growth of circle-face drawing made by 5-year-old Grace.

Artist Grace Drayton and Campbell's Soup Kids (1926)

The Campbell Kids have their mugs on mugs! (1970)

Campbell Kids on mugs - Offer from 1970

Campbell’s Soup – Chicken and Stars (1970)

Twinkle, Twinkle – bigger stars! Campbell’s Chicken & Stars Soup is brighter than ever. Because the stars are bigger than ever.

Campbell's Soup - Chicken and Stars (1970)

20 recipes from Campbell's emergency dinner cookbook (1968)

Campbell Kids soup bowl (1969)

Campbell Kids soup bowl (1969)

Hot on the heels of Andy Warhol’s famous tomato soup can artwork, artist/Designer John Alcorn created the far-out graphic for this poster premium issued by Campbell’s.

While the Campbell Kids had been around for decades by then, this psychedelic put the round-faced little soup addicts in a whole new light.

Introducing the Campbell Hang-up: A Campbell’s poster that’s M’m! M’m! Groovy! (1968)

A wild, wacky way to have your soup and get a way-out poster, too!

Turn your wall souper-delic! This poster’s a biggy — 2 feet by 3 feet. Get it by sending in 3 different labels from either Campbell’s Tomato, Vegetable Beef, Chicken Vegetable, Chicken Gumbo, Chili Beef or Beef Noodle Soup, and 50c with the coupon below.

The Campbell Hang-Up. It’ll make Campbell Kids everywhere say M’m! M’m! Groovy!

John Alcorn's psychedelic Campbell's Tomato Soup Poster was so very sixties

Why the Campbell Kids are always rosy-cheeked (1956)

Folks used to say that you were painting your checks from the inside when you ate the right kind of food. If you look at it that tray, you can easily see that the Campbell Kids come by their healthy color honestly.

For the Campbell Kids symbolize soup. And soup is a blend of many foods — foods containing vitamins, minerals, and proteins that help put a rosy glow on cheeks of all ages.

What are the reasons why Campbell’s Soups are so nourishing? First, they contain a variety of wholesome vegetables and meats. And variety itself is an important element of nutrition.

How Campbell’s Soups look and taste plays an important part, too. According to some nutritional authorities, good flavors and appetizing appearance increase the flow of digestive juices and help you enjoy food more.

The trouble Campbell takes to bring you basic nourishment and flavor is typical of the infinite care we take not just with soup, but with everything we make. It’s part of living up to the spirit as well as the letter of our well-known motto: “To make the best, begin with the best — then cook with extra care.”

“We blend the best with careful pains/In skillful combination/And every single can contains/Our business reputation.”

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Why the Campbell Kids are always rosy-cheeked (1956)

Vintage Campbell’s Soup Kids going places – 1950s

Vintage Campbell's Soup Kids going places - 1950s

Products from the 1950s featuring the Campbell Kids

Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s

Campbell Kids cooking set for children

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Vintage Campbell Kids cooking set for children from the 1950s

Campbell Kids Deluxe Super Market playset

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Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s - Deluxe Super Market toy

Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s – More cooking sets

Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s - More cooking sets

Vintage ’50s Campbell Kids decorating decals

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Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s decorating decals

1950s Campbell Kids Shopping board game

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Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s Shopping board game

Campbell Kids 1950s Dollhouse play furniture

Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s Dollhouse play furniture

Vintage Campbell Kids Indian Head Pennsylvania Dutch fabric

Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s Indian Head Pennsylvania Dutch fabric

Campbell Kids Mirro toy electric mixer

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Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s Mirro toy electric mixer

Campbell Kids Twin Dolls toys

Vintage Campbell Kids 1950s Twin Dolls toys

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