Sip-Along Sam from Kenner (1972)

Company: Kenner | Release date: 1972 | Where to purchase: eBay

As most parents will attest, adding a dose of fun to meal-time is a tried-and-true method to help convince picky kids to eat and drink nutritiously. For this reason, toy companies have routinely marketed novelty toys to help bridge the gap between what children want (e.g. chicken nuggets) and what they need (e.g. Brussels sprouts.)

In 1972, Kenner released Sip-Along Sam, a “partner that makes refreshment time fun.” Standing 6 ¼-inches tall, Sam was dressed in full cowboy regalia and could be attached to a washable mug shaped like an open-ended barrel, a staple in classic Western movies of the time. As an added bonus, Sam was articulated, with a movable head, arms, and legs.

The mug held up to a half-pint of a beverage of choice. When a child sipped on the provided straw, the liquid would also go up the straw of the doll, giving the appearance that Sam is imbibing the beverage simultaneously. Subsequent sips of the drink give the appearance of emptying and refilling Sam’s straw. Unbeknownst to the child, the plastic straw was closed at the doll’s mouth, ensuring that no liquid actually went into Sam.

Kenner also marketed Sip-Along Sue, Sam’s sister, for aspiring “cow-girls” of the day. The duo was paired in television commercials that often included the following jingle:

Sip-along Sam and Sip-along Sue.
A cowboy for me and a cowgirl for you.
Give ’em a straw and see what they do.
When you take a drink, they sip-along too.

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