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Hey Kids: 1942

Hey Kids: 1942

This uncaptioned but intriguing entry from among the many photos taken by John Collier in and around Washington in January 1942 has his Speed Graphic pointed down through the top of a well-worn display case bearing a bounty of candy (Troopers, anyone?), chemistry sets (Porter "Chemcraft") and a miscellany of small toys. 4x5 inch acetate negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
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Cobwebs on the Candy!

Nope, just scratched up glass. I love the boxes everything is sorted into.

Troopers on eBay

Current eBay auctions here and here. And some more over at Goldin Auctions.

Puzzling Evidence

"Nichrome wire [to the left of the Chemcraft package] can be used as an alternative to platinum wire for flame testing by coloring the non-luminous part of a flame to detect cations such as sodium, potassium, copper, calcium, etc."

Cations are positively charged ions with fewer electrons than protons.

[Puzzling? "Evidence"?? It's part of the chemistry set. - Dave]

Now a "collectible"

Apparently the "Troopers" were made by the American Mint Co. and some of the empty containers are listed here and there on the internet, sometimes for a couple of hundred dollars each.


I found a listing on eBay for an unopened set of 8 out of the 10. A little pricey to buy them and open one to see the contents, but this info was included:

The American Mint Corporation, located at 114 East 13th Street, New York, was a short lived company that produced a series of candy containers depicting soldiers from around the world. The packaging wrappers were 2 9/16 inches tall and made of cardboard. There were four series of soldiers produced from around 1938 until about 1945: DOUGHBOY, MINUTE MAN, TROOPER, YANKS.

The original set consisted of 20 different designs (nations) and was labeled the Doughboys: Afghanistan, Arabia, Austria, French Foreign Legion, Greece, England, Russia, Italy, France, United States, India, Poland, Turkey, Scotland, Ethiopia, Zulu Warrior, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and Japan. Twenty countries were chosen with the obvious exception of Germany. Japan was included with the first series of 20 Doughboys until the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

American Mint elected to keep the graphics the same in the following year, but merely changed the country's name to China. Therefore, a total of 21 countries were actually represented with the release of the first three series.

The second series manufactured in 1942 were titled Minute Man. The number of countries represented was cut to only 10: England, United States, Sweden, Ethiopia, Scotland, Russia, China, Italy, Turkey and France. This series, like the Doughboys, included a coupon inside each container redeemable for a toy prize.

Sometime in 1943 the Troopers were released. The redeemable coupon was now printed on the label (probably to save the cost of materials and labor). That meant that in order to redeem your coupon for a toy prize, you had to destroy the soldier. As a result, very few Troopers survived.

Finally, the scarcest series of soldiers was released at or near the end of WWII consisting of all Americans (patriotism was running high following the war). The soldiers' pictures became more lifelike, with smaller heads and less cartoonish in appearance. A total of 10 designs labeled Yanks, in an American Eagle cartouche, again with a redeemable coupon printed on the label, were released. And, once again, that design led to most of the soldiers being destroyed in order to remove the coupon. The American soldiers, Yanks, were as follows: Nurse (the only female in any series), Marine, Military Police, Parachutist, Infantryman, Pursuit Pilot, Ski Trooper, Army Officer, Admiral and Gob (slang term for a sailor).

To complete a set of the American Mint soldiers you would need 20 Doughboys, 10 Minute Men, 10 Troopers and 10 Yanks (50 soldiers, 31 different designs). Also, there were fruit flavored varieties within some of the soldier groups: Assorted Fruit, Lime, Cherry and so on, further complicating the ability to classify every type produced.

Penny Candy

They still had those watermelon slices (somewhat smaller) when I was a kid. I found them somewhat confusing because they were coconut flavored.

I count Troopers from ten countries

The list is mostly Europe, as follows:
Ethiopia -- the only African country,
Russia -- shouldn't that be USSR?,
United States -- the only country in Western Hemisphere.

I'm guessing each country had an associated flavor. I hope Scotland's was butterscotch and not haggis. I cannot find this candy on the Internet.

Artificial Flavors, Chemistry and Lincoln Logs?

What a strange combination of kid stuff. The pipes and bombs look like they are wax and full of the hyper-sweet syrup I bought in tiny wax Coke bottles as a kid for 1¢. Throw in some chemistry experiments for the older kids and apparently Lincoln Log pieces. I recognize the foil covered chocolate coins, but I have no idea what the little soldiers on the top right contained, however the flavoring and coloring was "artificial." God knows what that was in 1942.

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