By Scott Hearn, Assistant Archivist
To celebrate National Archives Month, we wanted to share a few of the interesting items we have in our archives. You might expect to find a lot of soup labels in our collection, but when you work for an iconic company like Campbell Soup, the scope of our holdings demonstrates just how much Campbell intersects with American culture.
In 2014, Wheel of Fortune and V8 came together for “Always Great! Wheel & V8 Week” which kicked-off V8’s eight-week sponsorship of Wheel of Fortune’s bonus round. Following the promotion, we received a V8 branded wedge signed by the hosts of Wheel of Fortune, Pat Sajack and Vanna White.
Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup Cans was first exhibited in 1962 and steadily grew in popularity through the 1960s. In 1967, we released the Souper Dress, a paper dress with the repeating pattern of the famous Campbell’s red and white label design. To get the Souper Dress, all you had to do was send labels from two different kinds of Campbell’s Vegetable Soups, plus $1.00. The dress was a hit, but because of its disposable nature, not many have survived. We have four Souper Dresses in our collection.
During World War II, we converted part of our production facilities and made rations for the U.S. military. The packaging of the rations did not feature the famous red and white design, but they did include a small logo.
The company that would become the Campbell Soup Company was founded in 1869 in Camden, New Jersey by Abraham Anderson and Joseph Campbell. The firm began their business canning asparagus, French peas, and as they called it, ‘The Celebrated Beefsteak Tomato.’ Seven years after the founding of their company, Philadelphia hosted the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Opening on May 10, 1876 in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, the Exhibition welcomed almost ten million visitors over six months. Anderson & Campbell displayed both their canning techniques and gave out cards promoting their business. We are lucky enough to have one of these cards. It’s the oldest piece of advertising in our collection.
In 1995, we announced a contest called the “Art of Soup” to celebrate the turning of Campbell’s label into a piece of iconic American art by Andy Warhol. The contest was promoted as a search for the next Warhol and was open to professional and amateur artists. The contest was judged by a panel featuring Paul Warhola, Andy Warhol’s brother – who kept the original family name “Warhola,” and the winning entry was announced at the Whitney Museum of Art. The winning piece was created by a then 11-year-old boy from San Juan Bautista, California. It depicted Campbell’s soup being served to an Egyptian Pharaoh in the style of an ancient tablet. His submission beat out more than 10,000 other entries.
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