Dolly Dingle and the Campbell's Soup Kids - Old Friends We Love!
When I was a little girl, I played with Dolly Dingle paper dolls. I also
loved the Campbell's Soup Kids. At that time, I realized that these two
sets of characters were somehow similar, but it wasn't until I grew up that
I realized that both familiar icons were the creation of Grace Drayton.
It was a real a-ha moment for me, and suddenly it made perfect sense to me
why I had felt such a fondness for the chubby toddler-like beings with so
many different names.
Grace Gebbie was born in 1876 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was
the daughter of an art publisher and grew up in a world of artistic
endeavor. Like Rose O'Neill, creator of the Kewpie Doll,
she enjoyed an unusual degree of success and reknown as an illustrator
at an early age. This was the Edwardian period - a time when women
were not strongly encouraged to seek their own fame or fortune. Grace
Gebbie's first works were published in 1895. Soon after, she married
Mmm-mmm, Campbell's Soup Kids
Wiederseim was a Philadelphia streetcar advertising executive. In 1904, he
was slated to attend a business meeting with the Joseph Campbell Company. In
order to walk into the meeting with something to show Campbell's representatives,
he asked his wife to draw a few characters that might be used for advertising
Campbell's Soup. The Joseph Campbell Company loved the pink-cheeked children
that Grace Gebbie Wiederseim had drawn, and quickly adopted them as the
charming mascots for Campbell's Soup. To the left, you can see an example
of an early advertisement using the Campbell's Soup Kids.
By this point in her career, Grace Gebbie Wiederseim had not only created
an icon for Campbell's, but had also published an illustrated series in the
Philadelphia Press called "Bobby Blake" and "Dolly Drake". In 1909, she
published a book in collaboration with her sister entitled The Terrible
Tales of Captain Kiddo. This talented illustrator often referred to
her creations as her funny babies, and they are certainly imbued with
a spirit of jollity and fun. Sadly, Grace Gebbie Wiederseim's private life
had become an unhappy one. In 1911, she divorced Theodore Wiederseim, and soon
was remarried - this time to W. Heyward Drayton II. You will find this
illustrator's work signed by all three of the last names she ever possessed:
Gebbie, Wiederseim, and Drayton.
Hello, Dolly Dingle!
While the Joseph Campbell Company was busy using Drayton's wonderful
illustrations to sell soup to the nation, Drayton continued to illustrate for
various magazines. In 1913, she created a new character, Dolly Dingle, to
appear in the popular publication Pictorial Review. With her shoe-button
eyes and baby curls, Dolly Dingle instantly skipped into the hearts of the
Over the next 20 years, Drayton would create more than 200 paper dolls
in the Dolly Dingle series. Prior to 1926, the paper dolls were printed in
full color, but during the Depression, Pictorial Review switched to a
two color series. Dolly Dingle's adventures included travelling around the
world to visit children of distant lands, including such characters as
Beppo and Prince Dalim Kumar. These foreign friends came complete with costumes
and symbols of their native lands. Travel by steamer had never been easier and
even the most stay at home Americans were often turned into globetrotters visiting
Egypt, Rome, and the Holy Land because voyages had become comparitively simple.
The round the world set of Dolly Dingle dolls is a wonderful reflection of the
new found fascination with distant lands. Dolly Dingle also celebrated American holidays
at home, and, of course, she spent lots of time playing with her special friends
Dolly Dingle's companions, apart from her dog Fido and her cat Kitty-Cutie,
- Billy Bumps
- Grace Harriman
- Mary Lamb
- Junior Allen
- Bessie Brooks
- Tommy Tingle
Perhaps one of the most enchanting aspects of these paper dolls were the
fun and widely varied costumes, toys, and accessories provided for them. They
offer excellent depictions of period clothing from the early 1900's through
the 1930's. It is interesting to take note of the reflection of World War I
that is present in the life of these happy paper dolls when one sees them
dressed as army scouts or Red Cross nurses. But, for the most part, the
clothing created by Grace Drayton is simple and fun.
Just look below at the charming set of Billy Bumps pyjamas, complete with
a cuddly stuffed elephant tucked under the arm. Dolly Dingle's school dress
is a perfect example of the color and embroidery that was in style in the
late Edwardian and early Jazz ages. Paper dolls can show us past fashions in
such a remarkable way!
The last set of Dolly Dingle paper dolls was published in 1933, and for a
time, this pleasant playfellow seemed to fall out of the American consciousness.
Grace Drayton passed away at the age of 58 in 1934, but her legacy was to live
on in the continued advertising of the Campbell's Soup Kids. In the early
1950's, these characters were brought back into the spotlight at a 50th birthday
party, and began to appear not only in print, but also in the new medium of
All at once, the Campbell's Soup Kids began turning up in all kinds of
memorabilia. This collectible Campbell's Soup Kids plate, shown left, was one
of a series featuring different types of soup. In addition to this, there were
books, games, toys, fabric, figurines, mugs, Christmas ornaments, and numerous
other Campbell's Soup Kids-themed collectibles.
In 1976, Campbell's Soup put out a set of dolls to mark the Bicentennial,
dressed in Colonial-style costumes. Further dolls were created in the 1980's
and 1990's, and I show examples below of both the Bicentennial dolls and the
more recent ones. These dolls are highly collectible. People who love the
Campbell's Soup Kids take great pride in owning dolls like these. If you have
additional photographs of Campbell's Soup memorabilia, I'd love to see them.
Doll collectors have not failed to notice that the Campbell's Soup Kids
seem to be getting thinner as time goes by. No doubt, the Campbell's Soup
Company decided that the original kids might lead people to believe that
eating Campbell's soup would make you chubby. I have to say, I find this
rather silly, and would prefer them to go back to the more child-like
appearance created by Grace Drayton.
How to Draw Dolly Dingle
I have worked for the past 15 years as a fine artist, and the simplicity of
Grace Drayton's illustrations have appealed to me since I was a little girl.
I thought it would be fun here to give you step-by-step instructions for
drawing your own Dolly Dingle doll.
First, draw a circle with a regular pencil. It doesn't have to
be perfect. Just try to keep your lines light. I drew with more
pressure than normal here in order to be able to scan my drawing.
Dolly Dingle's eyes are a mounded half-circle with a slightly
down-drooping lower line. The top of her eye is a little less than
halfway up her face from her chin. The eyebrows are set very high on
the head. The mouth is just a small line with two curved cheek marks.
The nose is as shown. Draw these.
Dolly Dingle's curls follow the line of the circle you have
originally drawn, and swing out from the chin line of the head in
semi-bell shapes. Draw these.
Now, with your eraser, significantly lighten all of your pencil
marks until they are almost invisible and will only serve as faint
guides. Again, mine are heavier marks that I would normally draw.
With a peach colored pencil, color in Dolly Dingle's whole face
except for the whites of her eyes. Then, with a carmine colored
pencil, create the circular cheeks with a small spot left unreddened
for shine. The nose is a carmine oval with a spot left for a shine.
The chin is shaped like a carmine comma. Try to shade carefully and
lightly with the carmine pencil.
Next, with a yellow pencil, color in Dolly Dingle's entire hair
area. Follow this by taking a goldenrod pencil and coloring over the
yellow in all but a few places. As you can see from my illustration,
I've left some of the yellow shining through in patches. This gives
dimension to the hair.
Next, take a black pencil and create Dolly Dingle's eyes. I am giving
you a closeup here, so that you can see the smudgy arc at the top of
the eye and the colored portion of the eye having a shape resembling
a Pac-Man symbol, with that little "bite" taken out of it. This is
what gives the eyes their shining look. There is a bit of black in the
lower corner of each eye and a hint of eyelashes at the far corners.
Continue to work with your black pencil, darkening all of the
lines that you made with your regular pencil. Do the outline of the
face, the hair and the other facial features as shown.
To finish your Dolly Dingle drawing, make sure your black pencil
is well sharpened and sketch in all of the little details of the hair.
Study how the lines at the top of the head give a slightly rippled
and shining effect and the lines in the hanging curls give a sense
of roundness. And that's it. You've drawn your first Dolly Dingle.
You could now move on to draw the rest of the figure and design
wonderful Dolly Dingle clothes for your creation.
Collectors' Value of Dolly Dingle and Campbell's Soup Kid Collectibles
I continue to be amazed at just how many sets of the original Pictorial Review
paper dolls have survived into the 21st century, and are appearing at auction.
A single sheet in good condition tends to value in the $10 - $30 range. Values
might be higher, but the publication of reproduction paper dolls in book
format have made it easier for Dolly Dingle fans to own these reproduction
items at quite a low cost. I have also seen antique Grace Drayton illustrative
prints being valued in the $100 - $200 range. The Goebel Hardelsges division
of the House of Global Art produced a series of collectible Dolly Dingle
porcelain dolls and figurines that tend to run in the $100 - $300 range.
Campbell's Soup Kid collectibles are quite common at auction. You can
discover terrific old tin signs from the 1950's, as well as inexpensive plastic
mugs from the 1990's, all in one auction. Price will depend on condition and
In conclusion, I find the creation of Grace Drayton to be one of
the 20th century's most splendid examples of a special and human
appeal being given to advertising by the gifts of a talented illustrator.
So much of what is marketed to us in modern times is based upon the
assumption that high-tech, mass-produced and robotic imagery is what
consumers should want and find appealing. Yet, many of us find no reason
to make an emotional connection to that which is faceless or futuristic.
Dolly Dingle and the Campbell's Soup Kids put a charming human face
on the forms of media they embellished, and the fact that people can
still joyfully relate to these characters today is something that
modern advertising executives should be paying attention to.