Do You Remember? The California Raisins Show

1989 – 1990

Pop quiz: How many lovable characters originated from a mandate by a farmers’ collective to boost sales of a floundering agricultural product? Under these highly uncommon circumstances, the California Raisins were born. In 1986, the California Raisin Advisory Board commissioned Claymation artist Will Vinton to create an advertising campaign. Vinton decided to give the wrinkled fruit a hipper image, creating bluesy raisin-men who snapped their fingers and danced to Motown’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Through a series of immensely popular commercials, the Raisins were elevated to celebrity status, complete with toys, restaurant tie-ins, keychains, specials, music albums, and all the other hallmarks of pop icon status.

In 1989, the producers of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gave the Raisins their own Saturday morning series, trading in the Claymation process for traditional cel animation. In the cartoon version, four raisins—singer A.C., drummer Beebop, bassist Stretch, and pianist Red—spar constantly with their manager, while either on tour or hanging out in the extravagant penthouse above their recording studio. “Mom” Raisin co-starred, along with other fruits, vegetables (Lick Broccoli, for one), and food products. Alas, the 2D Raisins lacked the devoted following their 3D clay counterparts had amassed, ending their run on the small screen after only one season.

About Mickey Yarber 239 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Sometimes referred to as the Retro Rambler...I was born in the '70s, grew up in the '80s, and came of age in the '90s. I love to share all the fun stuff from those years via my Retro Ramblings column.

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