By JENNINE ZELEZNIK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
BRISTOLVILLE -- Sitting in a plush blue chair at the Bristol Public Library, Darlene Fiest contemplated her collection.
"I have no idea what the first one was," she said, eyeing the dolls, plates, mugs, trucks and books, all bearing a distinctive red and white logo.
"I just bought what I liked and then I started really thinking about collecting."
Campbell's Soup is what Fiest craves -- not vegetable or tomato, but the collectibles. And especially the famous Campbell's Soup Kids.
The rosy round cheeks and bowl haircuts of the company's mascots always reminded Fiest and her twin sister of, well, themselves.
"We kidded about how we looked like them," she said, nodding to a pair of dolls in the display case. "Especially the boy. Our mom cut our hair the same way."
Now she collects anything she can find with the Campbell Soup Kids.
"It's in your blood and it gives you something to look for when you go to flea markets and yard sales," Fiest said, thumbing through a Campbell's Soup collector's guide like a kid going through a Christmas catalog.
"See that one?" she asked, pointing to a picture of a doll, circa 1960. "I've got that one. Oh, and those, too," she pointed to a set of poster prints.
Valuable pieces: She pointed to another picture in the book, this one of a lunch box.
"If there's one thing I would look for, it's an old lunch box," she said, her blue eyes twinkling behind glasses.
The most valuable piece of her collection is a wooden Fisher Price truck with the Campbell's Soup logo and Kids painted on it. She paid over $100 for the toy -- the book lists its worth as about $350.
Fiest doesn't take that number too seriously, though.
"It's worth that much only if you would find the fool that would pay $350 for it," she said, laughing wryly. "Only if you find someone as crazy as I am."
Ornaments: Fiest's craziness extends to even Christmas ornaments -- she has the entire line of glass balls that have been produced since 1980, along with other ornaments.
"I have enough ornaments that I could probably decorate a medium size tree all in Campbell's Soup," she said, laughing.
But does she even eat Campbell's Soup?
"Not every day, not every kind," Fiest said, laughing.
"But I do eat it. Chicken noodle is my favorite."
Of course -- it's M'm, M'm! Good!