Tuesday, January 11, 2022
The April 1936 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association featured an article titled "Mouth Hygiene in Kern County, California." Not the most endearing of topics to be sure, but a quick scan of the magazine's pages reveals an interesting Disney connection. Kern County is located in central California, taking in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains and Mojave Desert. In the mid-30s the Kern County Board of Supervisors employed one dental hygienist to spread the word amongst youngsters the value of brushing their teeth. As part of the promotion children were examined and if they passed inspection, they were awarded either a Mickey or Minnie Mouse "Good Teeth" pin. Classes scoring 100% "good teeth" by the end of the school year were also awarded a hand-tinted picture of Mickey Mouse and the Three Little Pigs. In 25 years of collecting I have never seen an example of this particular certificate. There was also a Kern County dental Roll Call of Honor that was hung in classrooms. While that item also had Disney character graphics, the illustrations were not done by a Disney Studio artist. There were at least two other Disney / American Dental Association campaigns: one featured Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the Big Bad Wolf, while the other featured characters from Pinocchio. Here are examples of premiums associated with the second campaign: A reminder card and close-up detail of the back flap of the mailing envelope, a certificate of merit and a pinback button. All three items feature outstanding graphics. It's interesting to see the Wolf once again resurrected as the villain. One item I have never seen and have never been able to confirm the existence of, is the "Mickey Mouse Merit Medal," an illustration of which can be seen behind the Wolf in the background of the certificate. Enjoy the images and keep those pearly whites clean and shiny - if you're lucky maybe your dentist will give you a pin.