Kiddie Kandids, 1940s.
Unbound. An archive pertaining primarily to a Santa Claus promotion in the 1940s revolving around the classic photo pose of children with Santa. Included are 21 photos measuring between 4.5” x 5.5” and 8” x 10” as well as an informational packet and a map of the United States that shows the cities using the promotion. All items are near fine or better.
The photos were provided to department stores by Kiddie Kandids out of St. Louis, Missouri and came with a folder entitled *Operation Santa Claus 1948* with an intricate 13-page explanation of how the experience worked. The packet begins with a “who, what, when, where, and how much” for the store to look through. The who and what sections explain that “all the kiddies that come to see Santa at Christmas time will have a natural unposed record of their visit in a good candid flash photograph.” It goes on to say “a picture will be taken of every child that visits Santa and the parent will be given the opportunity to purchase it.” The photos are to be taken between October and December because they are “of Christmas rather than for Christmas” and thus need to be completed before the holiday itself. Each photo will be 5” x 7” and come with a matching Christmas folder at “one photo for $1, three for $2, or six for $3.” The company emphasizes the need for a hidden camera throughout the literature because their goal is to truly capture the magic of meeting Santa through a candid photo. “The camera will be concealed in a stand. The child approaches by steps, ramp, or passage-way on the opposite side of Santa from the camera (see diagram). As the youngster visits with him, a candid, unposed picture is snapped and the child leaves by exit ramp at the opposite end of the stage or enclosure.” The end of the packet includes a diagram for setting up the photo station and ideas for advertising along with a laid in list of the studio’s personnel across the country.
Included in the material are various examples of previous photos with Santa as well as the photo folders from 1940. The photos show little boys and girls smiling and talking to Santa as well as some with just Santa surrounded by Christmas trees. A few of the photos are hand colored, one of these shows a little blonde girl in a green jacket on Santa’s lap excited to tell him her Christmas wishes. The folders are in greens and reds and read, “Look who’s here!” and “Merry Christmas.” Also included is a negative for an advertisement for the May Company’s Santa promotion in Baltimore. Another advertisement is included for Rike’s Toyland which reads, “Don’t miss Santa in toy wonderland.” The company attempted the same concept with a Pilgrim woman, trying to promote a similar idea for Thanksgiving. Ten photos laid in show children sitting with a Pilgrim as well as photos of the woman by herself in costume. That promotion seems not to have been a success.
An interesting collection of holiday promotional material focused on Santa Claus photos.