World War II was an extremely scary time for a lot of countries. The US had a scare that deadly chemicals would attack America so having gas masks in your emergency kits in your house was not uncommon.
However when it came to protect children of potential chemical attack these standard gas masks were not the best.
A lot of time these masks were too big to fit a child’s face and/or it just scared the kids into not wanting to put them on. That is when the government decided to give Walt Disney a call!
In January 1942 Walt Disney was invited to Washington DC to meet with “civil and chemical warfare” teams to come up with a concept and design a gas mask that children would want to wear that would not be so scary as this:
So he came up with this design:
The Mickey Mouse gas Mask came in five different sizes for about $3.75 each. The sizes range baby to toddler to kid to small adult all the way up to a stand adult size.
The mask was produced by a company called The Sun Rubber Company who usually made rubber items for schools and hospitals. They even made a pouch with a cartoon Mickey Mouse on it:
About a thousand of these masks were made in the US. There was even a British version of this mask and they tried to market them as a fun game to play in order for children to keep this mask with them on all times and to put them on if the occasion arose. The different between the US and the British masks was the coloring of it. The British version of these was a solid color of blue or red:
The US version had colors that more resemble Mickey’s colors:
Even Charlie McCarthy ( a very popular entertainment act) was fitted to wear a Mickey Mouse gas Mask!
The masks that were made for the US was never handed out because chemical warfare never came on to US soil however they were used more in England. These masks are really rare to find in the US and most of them are in museums.
Fun fact: Depending on how well the Mickey Mouse gas mask sold they were going to make more of these masks with other Disney characters such as Goofy and the three little pigs:
Until Next time!