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Doctor Dan the Bandage Man

Margaret on July 22nd, 2008 at 10:45AM

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, 1950

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.

Doctor Dan the Bandage Man -- Dan gets an adhesive bandage from his Mom

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.”

 Doctor Dan the Bandage Man -- shows where BAND-AID Brand Adhesive Bandages were attached

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 the Bandage Man -- Dan bandages his sister's doll

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.

Open Response to Doctor Dan the Bandage Man

  1. My toddler son loves this book…
    As far as I remember, the brand name “Band-Aid” is not actually mentioned in the book.

  2. JT, That’s true. The brand name is, appropriately, never mentioned in the story. They’re just called “bandages.” The product name only appears in the orange balloon on the front cover and on the inside title page (with the actual BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages). It’s a great book, and toddlers especially love putting adhesive bandages on themselves, toys, etc…as anyone who’s a parent (me included) knows.

  3. I would like to just say that your work is outstanding! I am enjoying learing the history of this company.

  4. I was cleaning out some boxes in my garage and came across a dozen of my Little Golden Books, I am now 50 and the book is marked 1960 published in Australia.

    I remeber I loved this book and even used one of the bandaids on my dog Buster just like Dan did in the story. I loved it so much the back cover is missing from constant reading. I am going to take it inside for my six year old to read as I am sure she will enjoy it.

    I thought I would google it to see what came up and was amazed to find this site.

  5. What a great book. I will get a copy of it and show it to my 2 year old son.

    What’s even more interesting is that my name is Doctor Dan!! Yea,I’m even a Pre-Med adviser…ha ha.

  6. I am looking to purchase the first issue of Dr Dan The Bandage Man, with or without the bandages. If anyone has a copy I could buy please email me on gordon07@bigpond.com I live in Australia if you are interested.

    Many thanks

    Gordon Thomas

  7. I love this book and just ordered 10 copies from Amazon.Com to send to friends…to my dissappointment, the books arrived and they no longer have real the J&J Band-Aid Brand inside the book, they have instead changed them to “real plastic bandages”.

  8. My two and a half year old loves this book.I recently picked up a copy of this republished story.We have even managed to use the two “bandages” that came with it . Jane . Newcastle, Australia

  9. Nice job, Margaret. Did they ever call them BAND-AIDS in the book, instead of their patented longer name? I guess bandages would be ok.

  10. Thanks, Rob! On the cover of the book and on the page where the BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages were attached, they were called BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages. In the story, they were just referred to as bandages, but the artwork clearly shows the BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages tin from 1950.

    Margaret

  11. I just bought this book for someone who is having a baby, everyone loved the book as much as I do. Its a very sweet book for children.

    Anne

  12. Wasn’t there a later version in the 1960′s that had color photographs or at least a photo for the cover instead of drawings? I seem to recall having one with a the oddest looking dog on the cover.

  13. Mike,

    If there was a version of the book with photographs, I’ve never seen it. I’ve only seen the version with the illustrations. If anyone out there has an image of a version of Doctor Dan the Bandage Man, I would love to see a copy!

    Margaret

  14. Doctor Dan is wonderful children’s story.

  15. we have a doctor dan book, inside page states 1950 western publishing company 1977, and cover states “two-real band-aid”. Some version we see on-lone state “six real band-aid:. Was doctor dan republished in 1977?

    thank you

    mary keeney

  16. Mary,

    Doctor Dan was republished, though I don’t have a specific date (or dates) for that. The book is still available for sale due to its popularity.

    Margaret

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