In the film "Citizen Kane" young Kane owns a sled with the name "Rosebud". I have always assumed that the name was invented for the film, but I was recently reading "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (by Betty Smith) and came across this text:

And the sleds! (Or, as the Williamsburg children called them, the sleighs.) There was a child's dream of heaven come true! A new sled with a flower someone had dreamed up painted on it-a deep blue flower with bright green leaves-the ebony-black painted runners, the smooth steering bar made of hard wood and gleaming varnish over All! And the names painted on them! "Rosebud!" "Magnolia!" "Snow King!" "The Flyer!" Thought Francie, "If I could only have one of those, I'd never ask God for another thing as long as I live."

The film "Citizen Kane" was released in September 1941 while "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" was published in 1943 so it is certainly possible that Betty Smith took the Rosebud name from the film but I was wondering if perhaps "Rosebud" was a real sled brand (or model).

Does anyone have any evidence either way?

  • 2
    Not a brand but rather a "type" I suspect. Not a brand like say Ford but a model like Mustang
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 20:30
  • 2
    A web search suggests it’s unlikely Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 21:44
  • Feels like a bit of DIY tole painting, like painting a name on your boat. I'm pretty sure most people would be making their own sleds, not buying them. A bit of individual touch on the paint job would be part & parcel.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 13:46
  • @Tetsujin according to Welles: "Rosebud is the trade name of a cheap little sled". See linked question.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 16:57
  • @OrangeDog - it was a movie prop owned by the character. That doesn't make it "real".
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 17:23

1 Answer 1


Rosebud was not a real sled. In fact, the author of Citizen Kane, Herman Mankiewicz, wrote this semi-autobiographical film based on a bike of his which was stolen, so Rosebud was actually a bicycle. Supposedly, and we will never know the truth behind this, Mankiewicz went to a horse track in 1914 and won; the horse he put the bet on was Old Rosebud. I believe after the movie came out, someone manufactured sleds using the name Rosebud, as there are clearly pics of sleds with that inscribed on them.

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