An illustration of a yellow duck with yellow text around outer edge of button
The term "Tonsils Out Club" appeared on pinback buttons and greeting cards in and around the mid-twentieth century. This was around the same time that tonsillectomy became the most commonly administered surgery in the United States. Institutions such as Methodist Hospital sometimes had special "Tonsils Out Club" pins made for patients, possibly as a means of advertising to other potential tonsillectomy patients.
Tonsillectomy is a procedure for the removal of the tonsils, or normally occurring tissue found near the opening to the throat. The surgery gained popularity in the years between 1915 and 1960, with physicians recommending tonsillectomy for everything from chronic sore throat to deafness and halitosis. The procedure's popularity peaked in 1959, when doctors in the US performed approximately 1.4 million tonsillectomies, mostly on children. Tonsillectomy lost popularity in the 1960s as evidence increasingly refuted the procedure's supposed benefits. Today, tonsillectomy is mostly recommended for the treatment of airway obstruction or chronic tonsillitis.
Grob, G. N. (2007, April 10). The rise and decline of tonsillectomy in twentieth-century America. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 62(4), 383-421. https://doi.org/10.1093/jhmas/jrm003
Kharodawala, M. (2005, April). The modern tonsillectomy. Grand rounds presentation, University of Texas. Retrieved from https://www.utmb.edu/otoref/grnds/Tonsillectomy-2005-0427/Tonsillectomy-050427.pdf