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The History of G.I. Joe

The first G.I. Joe action figure was initially referred to simply as an “action solider” and debuted in 1964. In 1975, the toy series was renamed the G.I. Joe Adventure Team to downplay associations with the Vietnam War, but for many children, G.I. Joe remained a soldier. The origins of G.I. Joe’s name have been debated, but the most commonly accepted explanation is that during World War I, American soldiers were referred to as “G.I.’s.” Cartoonist and draftee Dave Breger is credited with first using the name “G.I. Joe” in a 1942 comic strip that appeared in Yank, the Army Weekly during World War II. It’s thought that Hasbro later adopted the name for their action figure. Interestingly, a World War II war bonds poster that appealed to children featured the words “Help Equip G.I. Joe” along with cutouts that could be used to give the soldier depicted accessories, much like a paper doll. It came out just two years after Breger’s cartoon did, suggesting that the term “G.I. Joe” had already gained widespread usage. Over the years, the design of G.I. Joe has gone through various updates, but the toy series still remains a favorite of many children today.

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