Many people remember Little Golden Books from their childhoods. They’re small, filled with lots of colorful illustrations, and have short, heartwarming stories for young children. Everybody probably had a favorite Little Golden Book when they were little: The Three Little Kittens, The Fuzzy Duckling, Scuffy the Tugboat, Little Red Riding Hood, The Saggy Baggy Elephant…and the one about BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages. Wait a second…the one about WHAT?
Cover of Doctor Dan the Bandage Man, courtesy of Little Golden Books
You read correctly: the one about BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages. In 1950, the publishers of Little Golden Books published Doctor Dan The Bandage Man, about a little boy named Dan who is out playing with his friends and scratches his finger.
In a scene familiar to most households, Dan gets his finger bandaged by his Mom. Illustration and Text From Doctor Dan the Bandage Man, by Helen Gaspard, courtesy of Little Golden Books
Dan runs crying to see his mom, who promptly washes the scratch and covers it with a BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandage. For the rest of the book, every time a friend, a pet, a toy or his Dad gets a cut or scrape, Dan puts a bandage on the injury to make it better. On the last page, his Dad nicknames him “Doctor Dan the Bandage Man.”
Page showing where the six BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were attached.
But that’s not all. The book came with six real BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages — attached inside and advertised on the cover — so that kids could bandage their own hurt toys, should the need arise.
So how did the Company manage to get one of its most familiar products placed into a book series read by millions of parents to their children? According to the Publisher’s Note at the beginning of the book, we didn’t…they came to us. Here’s what Simon and Schuster (the publisher in 1950) said:
“For a long, long time, the publishers have been ardent admirers of BAND-AID Adhesive Bandages – not only for themselves (publishers seem to cut themselves more than other people) but because of their effect on children. We’ve noted that BAND-AID Adhesive Bandages not only cheer and comfort small boys and girls who bang themselves up, but that they make wonderful playthings as well. No one quite knows how many millions of dolls and stuffed toys…have been patched up in this manner.”
“Consequently, when the idea for this book came to us, we promptly went to Johnson & Johnson and asked them if they would be willing to help us. They were very nice about it and asked that we point out that BAND-AID is Johnson & Johnson’s trademark for its brand of adhesive bandages and for several other products in its line.”
Besides illustrating the fact that we had a trademark law department that never slept even back in 1950, this publishers note shows that, three decades after they were invented, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages had become such a part of parents’ and children’s lives that the most popular children’s book publisher wrote a story about them.
According to Random House (the publisher of Little Golden Books today), Doctor Dan marked one of the first ventures into book and product joint packaging, something that’s common today. And Doctor Dan’s first printing of 1.75 million copies (each copy containing six BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages – that’s a staggering 10.5 million total adhesive bandages given to readers!) is the largest first printing of any Little Golden Book to date, according to Random House’s timeline (which is dated 2002).
Here’s a good history of Little Golden Books – they were the first inexpensive, high-quality children’s books that were widely available, and allowed many more families to afford and own books for their children.
Doctor Dan bandages his sister’s doll, courtesy of Little Golden Books
Doctor Dan the Bandage Man proved to be so popular that it was reprinted in 2004 and is still in print today (and yes, it still comes with BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages). It’s also featured in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian as a piece of American culture.
If you’re interested in reading Doctor Dan the Bandage Man, it’s available to read here.