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How Snow White Invented Mass Merchandising Before Star Wars, According To Author Emily Zemler – Exclusive

On the surface, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and 1977's "Star Wars" don't seem to have much in common, aside from them both being groundbreaking films from their era.

"Snow White" was the very first animated feature film by Disney, causing a stir among audiences that still resonates today. The movie tells the tale of a beautiful and kind-hearted princess named Snow White who flees from her evil stepmother, The Queen. While hiding in the forest, she befriends seven lovable dwarfs before being tricked into eating an enchanted apple that puts her in a deep sleep that only the magic of a true love's kiss can cure.

"Star Wars," on the other hand, is an ahead-of-its-time epic space opera that instantly enthralled audiences and shattered box-office records. In it, the villainous Darth Vader holds Princess Leia hostage in an effort to defeat the rebellion against the powerful Galactic Empire. Together, farmboy Luke Skywalker and daredevil pilot/smuggler Han Solo work together to rescue the princess, help the Rebel Alliance, and bring peace to the Galaxy.

Both films have cult followings to this day, with "Star Wars" ballooning into a multi-billion-dollar franchise that now includes almost two dozen films and TV shows, and "Snow White" being the cornerstone of the official Disney Princess collection.

But, according to author Emily Zemler — who penned the book "Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara" that's out now — "Star Wars" owes "Snow White" some gratitude for paving the way in one specific area. It was a topic she made the interesting observation during an exclusive interview with Looper.

Even in the 1930s, Snow White had 'an intense amount of merchandise'

In researching "Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara," Zemler came to the conclusion that "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was, in fact, the OG of mass merchandising.

"There's a common misconception in film history that 'Star Wars' originated mass merchandising, but that is not the case at all," says Zemler. "'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' had an intense amount of merchandise, including, as you see in the book, ham, bleach, and lamps. If you wanted something, you could get it with Snow White or a dwarf on it."

She continues, "I thought it was crazy that you could have gotten that many things. Today, we can get a lot of things and there's a lot of toys, but it's a different society now, and there are a lot more shops, and there's a lot more online availability. To think that in the 1930s you could have acquired all of those products if you were a fan of the film is really interesting."

So, the next time you go pick up a Luke Skywalker action figure or a remote-controlled BB-8 droid, remember to thank "Snow White" for paving the way to making it all possible.

"Disney Princess: Beyond the Tiara," published by Epic Ink, an imprint of The Quarto Group, is out now.