What you are about to read is what I have been able to piece together from several personal and researched sources. By no means is this all fact. If you can provide additional definitive information on the company, the figurines, or the food product which they came in, please email us.
Van Brode Company|
The Van Brode Company, located in Clinton, Massachusetts and/or Boston, Massachusetts, may have been a conglomerate which supplied the US Military with food and utensils. We know they had a Van Brode milling company subsidiary in Clinton (Van Brode Mills) which produced C-Rations during the Korean War.
[C-Ration images courtesy of Bob Beecher].
In 1941 David and Goldie Brody acquired American Cereals and changed its name to Van Brode Cereals. According to a source that worked at the company, "Dave changed the cereal company name to Van Brode (dutch pronunciation) and put a little dutch boy and girl on the packages because (as I was told) he thought people would buy cereal from a Dutch cereal maker faster than they would from one run by Jews. Note: Before the cereal company was American Cereals it was the owned by the Methodist Church (as I was told)".
"In Clinton we always pronounced it Van Brody Milling. Dave only sold his cereal west of the Mississippi. Reason: 'If there is something wrong with the product they (the consumer) have to be real angry before they come all that way to complain in person'. The small overcooked rice puffs were sifted out of the cereal, bagged in bulk and sold to Nestles for Nestles Crunch bars".
"Not only did Clinton Manufacturing (the plastics arm of the Brody companies) make the spork [a combination plastic spoon and fork, for which they received a patent in 1970], they also made some of the first plastic dinnerware in colors. When you produce plastic items there is always plastic waste. To increase profits someone in the company came up with the idea to just mix all the different colored plastic waste together and regrind it small enough so it would feed into the injection molding machines. Thus was born 'Rainbow ware' with swirls of white red blue and yellow, a very good seller."
In 1962 they used cracked wheat to make survival biscuits for bomb shelters. We believe it was the milling company that produced the puffed whear and puffed rice cereal products that included nicely molded multinational male and female paired figurines in traditional native costumes in the mid-1950's.|
Van Brode sold 8-packs of cereal. Each 8-pack contained two each of four cereals: Puffed Rice, Puffed Wheat, Crisp Rice, and Corn Flakes. Crisp Rice had a predominantly red diagonal label. The other labels were orange (Puffed Wheat), brown and green. The Crisp Rice were on each end, opposite the other, and were the only ones with figurines.
|Van Brode Mills|
Image courtesy of Dan Goodsell
Here is an image of a Van Brode Mills Puffed Wheat snack pack box wax wrap. (Click for a larger image). To date, we have not seen a full-size box, or any cereal box advertising which actually indicates how or where folks could obtain the dancing figurines. We understand the milling company produced eight cereal products that at one time included the nicely molded multi-national male and female paired figurines in traditional costumes as a free prize inside.|
|Van Brode "Dancing Dolls" Figurines|
[From left to right: two each from Hungary, Egypt, Turkey, and Hawaii].
|This is an image of eight of the Van Brode Dancing Doll figures. Whether you call them international dolls, dancing figurines, or costumed figures, they are quite striking, especially for hard molded plastic that is 50 years old.|
We have identified a total of 29 pairs of male and female figurines (to date) from Alaska, Argentina, Bali, Burma, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, English, Egypt, Finland, France, Hawaiian (misspelled as Hawiian), Holland, Hungarian, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Java, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Scotch, Siam, Spanish, Switzerland, Turkey, and West Indies. However, not all of these are genuine Van Brode issue. (We are still trying to determine which ones actually carry the Van Brode markings, and what other companies may have made the unmarked dolls. The others may have been part of a larger "Dolls of the World" set).
The figurines range in size, but are generally from 1 7/8" to 2" high, by 1 1/4" wide, by 1/2" deep.
The figurines seem to have a range of colors including white, off-white, cream, ivory, beige, yellow, and an orange tint. All of the off-white, yellow and orange colors may be attributed to fading, but could also be attributed to different batches of plastic. Blue, green, and red colored figures have been reported. We have also seen what appears to be hand-painted figurines.
|The base of each figurine is marked with it's corresponding country, as well as the "Van Brode" name. Some are marked: "VAN BRODE", "BRODE", and "VAN BRODE CO. INC". The company markings can be found on one side of the base (on the opposite side from the country markings, as shown) or on the underside of the base.|
We believe the figurines were issued in the mid-1950's, and not before 1959 because it was in 1959 that Alaska and Hawaii became our 49th and 50th states. No other states are represented.
1. We have come to find out that similar figurines may also have been available with Frito promotions but no manufacturer markings can be found on those figurines. Some folks tell of collecting these from gas stations and Cracker Jack as well.
2. Luckies (not Quaker) included the dancing dolls in boxes of Puffed Wheat in 1955 and 1956.
3. The hand-painted figurines were not from the cereals and do not say Van Brode on them. An ad in some comic books in the early/mid-1950's featured an ad for 100 "dolls of the world". Some of these figurines (like Italy) are different designs than those found in the cereal. For example, the painted Austria male is the very same figure as the unpainted Switzerland male, and the China unpainted male is the same figurine as the unpainted Japanese male. Van Brode used a more delicate mold, listed the country on the front, and included the "Van Brode Co." marking. The non Van Brode figures have no makers mark and their country is listed on the back of the figure.
4. Van Brode figurines have been distributed in other countries, like Australia and West Germany which are different from the ones that were distributed in the U.S. A set of miniature busts with Van Brode Milling Co., made in West Germany, that stand about 3" tall, include Michaelangelo, Columbus, Wagner, Mozart and Beethoven.
What Are The Figurines Worth?|
We have not seen an official price guide listing the Van Brode Figurines. Frankly, they are worth whatever a willing buyer will pay a willing seller for them. We have seen them frequently on eBay where they go for 25 cents to 50 cents each (before shipping) in various sized lots.
Van Brode Figurine Collections
Here is a great Van Brode Album and a wonderful Non Van Brode Album.
Can You Provide Additional Information Or Images?
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