The Aladdin company started in 1907 as a manufacturer of kerosene lamps. In 1912, company founder Victor S. Johnson invented and patented an improved gas mantle for the lamps. The lamps caught on and were very successful. Experience making insulated cooking dishes for the U.S. Army in World War One led Johnson to the development of the first thermos bottle in 1919. In 1950 the company produced its first illustrated school lunchboxes. They were very popular and Aladdin continually expanded its product line. Over time it made improvements with new materials, in addition to changing the subjects of its lunch boxes according to popular taste. The company went out of business in 2002.
Papers documenting the business history of Aladdin Industries, especially their production of illustrated lunchboxes. The collection includes many scrapbooks; the voluminous files of Victor S. Johnson, Jr. (president of the company); photographs; business records; company newsletters; laboratory notes; advertising; trade literature; postcards; and original artwork for the illustrated lunchboxes.
Subjects and themes from popular culture and the entertainment industry, including stars, motion pictures, and television programs, decorated Aladdin products, including: Aladdin, The Angler, Ballerina, Batman, the Beatles, the Beverly Hillbillies, the Bionic Woman, Bonanza, Bozo the Clown, Bucaneers, Chuck Wagon [Combo?], Disco, 1978 Disney School Bus, Donald Duck, Emergency, E.T., Evel Knievel, the Flintstones, Gremlins, Gunsmoke, Hopalong Cassidy, the Jetsons, Mary Poppins, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, The Monroes, the Mouseketeers, the National Football League lunch boxes, soft bags and thermoses, Pufnstuf, the Rat Patrol, Sesame Street, The Six Million Dollar Man, Skateboarder, Space Explorer, Star Trek, Steve Canyon, Superman, Tarzan, Dick Tracy, Twiggy, Tom & Jerry, Winnie the Pooh, Woody Woodpecker, Yogi Bear, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Zorro.
Photographs: Includes images of famous personalities using or advertising Aladdin products, such as Steve Allen and Ronald Reagan.
Aladdin Industries, Inc. Records, 1889-2002, Archives Center, National Museum of American History