Gail Carey from Little Things Loved has kindly sent some photographs of what appears to be the only Nabisco product included in a non-Nabisco toy. It is a doll house grocery store sold by F.A.O. Schwarz between 1918 and 1919. On the shelf behind the grocer is a stack of Zu Zu Ginger Snaps boxes. The manufacturer is unknown but given the presence of the Zu Zu Ginger Snaps and Kellogg’s Crumbles and Uneeda Biscuits (another Nabisco product – actually National Biscuit Company, later Nabisco) this is probably an American toy. And it is a testament to Zu Zu Ginger Snaps’ reputation at that time that they were included.
Doll house grocery store sold in the F.A.O. Schwarz catalog.
Image of postcard from the Strong Museum (courtesy of Gail Carey)
Most of this information comes from “The Small World of Antique Dolls’ Houses” by Flora Gill Jacobs. Again, thanks to Gail Carey for sending me a scan of page 348 with said mention.
The boxes from behind the doll house grocer. From the collection of and ©2013 Gail Carey.
And thanks to my “go to” source for all things NBC/Nabisco, Charlie Brown. I asked him if he knew of any other NBC/Nabisco products that were included in non-Nabisco toys. He said there were a few Nabisco toys using their own products such as “the Uneeda Boy doll has a box of Uneeda Biscuits under his arm, the National Biscuit Horse Drawn Toy Wagon, had Uneeda Biscuit, Grahams, Premium, Barnums & Shredded Wheat Wooden boxes, paper overlay. The “Feed Me Bear”, Circa 1920’s had a box of Barnum’s Animals with the bear. The national Biscuit Truck & Double Trailer had NBC products inside. Of course Master Zu Zu had the miniature Zu Zu String box with the doll.” But apparently no inclusion of Nabisco products (even in non-edible form) in any non-Nabisco toys. So this appears to be a very rare item indeed.
Prissy and Charlie Brown
In honor of the Inner-Seal Club Convention coming up in October I wanted to write a post about the club behind the convention – and the people behind the club. Now in their 20th year the Inner-Seal Collectors Club celebrates the history and products of the Nabisco Company (originally the National Biscuit Company or NBC).
To explain how the club began we have to go back to 1973 when Prissy and Charlie Brown were married. Prissy had a love of antiques and Charlie worked as a salesman for Nabisco. Their first collector’s item was an Anola tin, a small metal tin which held sugar wafers produced by NBC. After that they were, so to speak, off to the races.
The one that started it all. The first item that Prissy and Charlie purchased together.
They collected toys and other items until one day a gentleman asked them the fateful question, “Do you collect National Biscuit Company?” The man’s name was Doran B. Goode and it took two years of “buttering him up” (plying him with lots of Nabisco cookies, crackers and snacks) until he finally sold the Brown’s his entire Nabisco collection.
In 1974 the Browns officially started the Inner-Seal Collectors Club and began publishing the Colophon newsletter for Nabisco collectors. Extraordinarily, the same year they gained permission to use the “SEALS OF NABISCO” and any of the Nabisco Trademarks and remain the only club with that distinction. Over the years membership grew and Prissy and Charlie continued collecting until they owned the largest collection of National Biscuit Company memorabilia, remarkably more than Nabisco and Kraft (which has owned the Nabisco Brand since 2000). And particularly for the readers of this blog they also own more Zu Zu Ginger Snaps memorabilia than anyone else in the world. Charlie is undoubtedly the world’s expert on ZZGS, bar none. He has been an unflagging supporter of time and effort to this blog or for that we thank him.
Among their collection, which you can see if you attend the Inner-Seal Club Convention in Louisville in October, are some very rare items indeed. You will find one-of-a-kind items such as ZZGS dolls, an original glass plate photograph from the photo session of the Uneeda Kid (post to come on the Kid), and The Only Original Zu Zu Ginger Snaps Box in Existence. And, of course, they own an extensive collection of other Nabisco brand items.
Here’s hoping them success in their next 20 years.
Update: Please see Mr. Brown’s additional information in the comments below.
This is the button you will receive if you attend the Inner-Seal Club Convention in October. Curiously in the middle of it is a Zu Zu Ginger Snaps Clown doll with the words “Master Zu Zu” over it. I had never heard of Master Zu Zu so I did what I always do, I asked Charlie Brown. He promptly wrote, “he was a boy doll, although he has long hair, a lot of boys at that time had long hair & curls. So he was referred to in 1902 as the Master ZuZu Clown, later the Master ZuZu Clown doll.”
And later he sent me pictures of the nbeye Nabisco Brands Inc magazine (Autumn 1982) showing the Master Zu Zu.
nbeye Nabisco Brands Inc magazine (Autumn 1982)
He further wrote, “The article reads, The Master Zu Zu doll was first made by Ideal in 1915 & closely resembles the Zu Zu Clown, he is 15″ tall, with cloth body and composition head, hands, lower legs & feet. Master Zu Zu wore a yellow clown suit and pointed hat, covered with variegated red stars and held a miniature box of Zu Zu Ginger Snaps in one hand.”
It’s no surprise the the Master Zu Zu shown in the Nabisco magazine is owned by Mr. Brown.
Some freshly baked gingerbread (or gingersnaps). Photograph and gingerbread by Jonik.
December 25, 2004 in Espoo, Finland.
Today is National Gingersnap Day! But good luck finding any information about it. Who started it? How are we supposed to observe it? Not a clue. If you have any information please let me know and I will update this post in your honor.
Trophy owned and photographed by Mr. Charlie Brown.
This is the award given to Nabisco for the 1981 Zu Zu Ginger Snaps Clown campaign. I can find no info on the campaign and I didn’t know they were even pushing the clown that much at such a late date. I will do more research to see if I can find out what the campaign consisted of. The award was given by POPAI (global association for marketing at retail) so I’m guessing that it was for retail displays of some kind.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Charlie Brown. Magazine from the collection of same.
Standing next to the delivery truck in this photo is a human wearing an original Zu Zu Ginger Snaps Clown costume, the only known photograph of someone actually in an original ZZGS Clown costume. The image is the cover of the March 1993 issue of “The Inside Collector” magazine and the gentleman behind the wheel is Dave Stivers, retired archivist for Nabisco.
An article from the 1917 edition of Printers’ Ink, an advertising trade magazine. The copy sounds like it was “influenced” by the NBC marketing department.
Separately I ran across an article published in a 1917 edition of Printers’ Ink, an advertising trade magazine. It tells of attending a party where some people (it doesn’t specify how many) were wearing Zu Zu Ginger Snaps Clown costumes. The article further reveals that it was apparently common practice for the National Biscuit Company (NBC – later Nabisco) to lend the costumes out free of charge to anyone wishing to wear them to a masquerade party. It states that “the company’s stock of 1,000 costumes is turned over twelve to fifteen times in a year.” I’m not sure if that means they loaned out 12,000 – 15,000 a year or they sold that many.
These days it’s hard to get a picture of how popular something was almost 100 years ago. Clues like the costume lending and the fact that NBC also gave out thousands of cheaper ZZGS Clown costumes to children all across the USA are clues to how truly popular this brand was.
Side note: surely there has to be other photographs of people wearing these costumes. If you know of any others please let me know and I’ll post them (with your permission of course). Thanks.
In 1912 D. S. Denison & Company published the play “When the Circus Came to Town” featuring a clown named Zuzu (“the principle clown”). Zuzu the clown. Like Zu Zu Ginger Snaps Zu Zu the Clown. Although published 11 years after Zu Zu Ginger Snaps were introduced it is a curious coincidence. Very curious. According to Mr. Charlie Brown ZZGS clown dolls were originally sold beginning in 1914 so the timing makes it more interesting. However, it could have been the other way around – Denison & Co. “borrowing” from NBC (later Nabisco) depending on when the ZZGS clown was introduced in marketing materials.
In the second image you can read a quick synopsis of the play. Or, if you are so motivated, you can read the whole play here.