Many factors, including changes in technology and the emotionally charged issues of the day, led to an explosion of campaign items in the 1896 presidential election. Of the more than 2000 varieties produced, none was more unusual than the soap baby. The campaigns of both the Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan and his Republican opponent and eventual winner William McKinley featured individual infant-shaped soaps each of which rested in a cardboard box with a tag promoting the policies of the relevant party. Future politicians abandoned these items apparently because voters thought they looked too much like babies in coffins.
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