Traditionally Disney bases their cartoons on existing properties such as fairy tales, books, toys or older cartoons. In 1985 Disney debuted a cartoon that had new idea of basing a show on a candy instead. Disney CEO Michael Eisner supposably came up with the when his child asked for a box of the candy. If you think that’s a stupid way to come up with a cartoon idea, at least it’s better than basing a TV series on the Rubik’s Cube (yeah, it existed).
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears broke new ground. Besides being the first cartoon TV series from Disney, it also was the first Saturday morning cartoon to feature a serialized plot. Unlike other cartoons where every episode resolved the plot in 30 minutes, Gummi Bears would continue from episode to episode.
Gummi Bears debuted on September 14th 1985 on NBC and ran for four year before jumping to ABC for it’s fifth year. Finally in 1990 it became the first cartoon in the two hour The Disney Afternoon syndicated block, effectively making it officially the first Disney Afternoon cartoon.
So how do you base a cartoon on a gummy candy in the shape of bears with no back story into a series of over 90 cartoons? Being creative. So creative in fact, you have to wonder why even bother calling it Gummi Bears and not just Magic Bears or something, that way they could have avoided paying a licensing fee to candy maker Haribo.
The series is about magical bears who live on the same earth as us human’s, but we are relatively unaware of them, thinking them to be mythical. It is implied that the bears and human’s used to live together in harmony, but the bears began distrusting human’s, probably because of our desire to abuse their magic and our desire to wear pants. This cartoon focuses on one particular family of these bears, known as the Gummi-Glen bears.
Much of the series revolves around the evil Duke Sigmond Igthorn’s desire to get ahold of the Bear’s Gummi Berry Juice. An odd potion that makes the bears bounce higher along with bouncing sound effect which the closest I can come writing it out would be “a-buuuuuuuuum”.
Want to get some Gummi Beary juice? It was actually sold at Disney World during a small time in the 1990s. They also gave their motorboat ride a Gummi Bear makeover by adding plywood cutouts of the characters along the side of the ride.
Unfortunately, Disney World hasn’t sold the juice in over 20 years. But you can make your own by following this secret recipe:
The juice is produced by adding six handfuls of red berries, then four orange berries, three purple berries, four blue berries, three green berries and one yellow berry. The recipe ends with the 3-step-stir: first stir slow to the right, then slow to the left, then tap the pot to banish the bubbles.
I’m not sure what kind of berries these are other than the colors, so please don’t get made if you find yourself dying instead of bouncing.
Perhaps the most memorable part of Gummi Bears though is the theme song, which was recently covered by Alicia Keys:
Gummi Bears ran for only one year on the Disney Afternoon, being the first bumped from the lineup to make way for Darkwing Duck. The show aired for the final time as part of the Disney Afternoon on September 6, 1991.
Here is the very first episode that ran almost 29 years ago:
Join us again tomorrow for Ducktails (Woo-ooo)!