The Yellow Kid on the Paper Stage
Introduction Origins of the Kid Class Warfare on the Urban Stage Race and Ethnicity Selling the Kid The Death of the Kid
Yellow Kid Cigar Box
Pin #34
February 1912 Calendar Postcard
Yellow Kid Icecream
Robinson & Chery ad
Theater Ad
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Selling the Kid

Commodifying the Kid

Yellow Kid DollAlthough Outcault tried to copyright the kid and may have profited from some products sold with his likeness, he later discovered that only the title "The Yellow Kid" and not his likeness were copyrighted due to an irregularity in the application. Among the Yellow Kid products, as comic historian Ian Gordon points out, there were at least two Yellow Kid chewing gums, including the Outcault-licensed Adams' Yellow Kid Gum and the nonlicensed Grove's Yellow Kid Gum.1 Other Yellow Kid products included pins, cigar boxes, sheet music, dolls, cap bombs, postcards, and a number of spin-off variety skits and theater productions. Gordon attributes Outcault's abandonment of the character to Outcault' s inability to effectively profit from the Kid.1

Yellow Kid Cap BombThe Yellow Kid also offers an early example of using youth to market to adults. Stuart Ewen writes: "Beyond the transformation of the period of childhood and adolescence into a period of consumption, youth was also a broad cultural symbol of renewal, of honesty, and of criticism against injustice—the young have always provided a recurrent rejection of the ancient virtues of 'the establishment' at times when more mature citizens consent and sit back."1 The Kid certainly cast himself as anti-establishment celebrity, a role appropriate for a yellow journal reporting on the ills of city life. Ewen notes that using youth ultimately becomes a language of control to exploit youth for economic purposes—and earn the parents hard-earned money.1 By acting as a commercial selling point for yellow journals, Outcault was in fact part of the establishment and in "control" of his audience.
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1 Gordon, Ian. Comic Strips and Consumer Culture, 1890-1945. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998. 32.

2 Gordon 33. Outcault was more careful in licensing Buster Brown in 1902 for the New York Herald (37).

3 Ewen, Stuart. Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1976. 139.

4 Ewen 142.