Nine Great Food-Based Cartoons
Editor’s Note : Republished in remembrance of Saturday Morning Cartoons
Cartoons over the ages have had many different and often unusual premises. Some are based entirely on heroes and their quest to conquer evil. Some are based around giant robots and their quest to conquer evil. Some have plots involving teens solving mysteries and their quest to conquer evil. You see? Cartoons seem to follow the same pattern again and again. And that’s fine, if you happen to enjoy cookie cutter shows. Me, I’ll take mine with a solid dose of something different: food. Nine shows stand out in my mind as the quintessential cartoons with central -or slightly off central- themes having to do with food, or, in a few cases, based entirely around a food or foods. Not ringing a bell? Well, let’s take a closer look then.
9) Scooby Doo
Everyone knows and loves the good old Great Dane and his slightly more inept human companions as they zoom around in their ill-equipped van stumbling head-long into contrived and exceptionally pointless mysteries. Scooby Doo was one of those cartoons that ran a formulaic plot device like a well-oiled machine, and they made it run smoothly. But, underneath the pomp and circumstance of discovering obvious clues and intertwined with the thinly veiled sexual tension lay the heart (and stomach) of a glutton. That’s right, Scooby and Shaggy were closet bulimics with a side of Scooby Snacks. It never failed that somehow, right within the midst of crime solving and running from crime solving, Shaggy and Scooby would stumble across a banquet worth of food. And then proceed to find ways to prevent the other from consuming it. Sharing: not a word in their vocabulary.
You know right away when you see a bipedal giant-ass orange cat, there must be some kind of eating going on. Garfield has been around since the late 70’s and has been battling morbid obesity ever since. In fact, it makes one wonder how a cat who participates in no regular exercise has lived as long as he has while still maintaining a ridiculously unhealthy diet consisting of 80% lasagna. Sure, he eats other stuff like cat food and various other items such as pies, whole chickens, cookies, ham joints, and sandwiches that have to be measured in metric tonnage, but his main staple -and his Achille’s Heel- is lasagna. In fact, without the comedic devise of the lasagna, Garfield might have lasted a few weeks instead of nearly 35 years. Death will be a welcome visitor… especially if it has lasagna.
For the most part, Popeye is a grizzled old sailor with a horrendous speech impediment, a lazy eye, swollen joints, upper-arm musculature issues, and a terrible smoking habit. His best girl is a waifish, potentially anorexic spinster who seems to glean the affections of both her seamen suitors by putting a bun in her hair and parading her perpetual infant child around like some kind of desperate former Debutant. But what Bluto and Olive Oyl always seem to forget (at least until it’s convenient to remember) is that Popeye has some kind of bizarre iron deficiency that is not only solved by consuming canned spinach, but is also completely reversed to the point of him becoming a super hero. Popeye without spinach is like a day without a dawn: it just doesn’t happen. When the little Naval reject isn’t feeling his oats after a severe pummeling by the hands of Bluto, it’s only a matter of time before the muscles turn into anchors and he becomes as solid as a cannon ball. Ah spinach… is there anything you can’t do?
6) Pac Man
Based completely on a video game that consists of nothing more than you -as a yellow mouth- running through a maze dodging spirits as you perpetually consume dots and power pellets, comes the cartoon Pac Man. Sure, the game offers up such a singular plot point that the cartoon had no choice but to significantly anthropomorphize the little guy and toss him in a diverse real-world surrounding, but it’s still Pac Man and he still has moments where he needed to consume dots and pellets to continue the narrative. They talk, walk, behave like cartoon people, and even wear clothes. But the simple fact still remains: without Pac’s food source and energy derivative, the story would have gone nowhere.
5) Veggie Tales
So, you want to learn about the bible and all its teachings without actually having to read page after wafer-thin page of droning speeches and non-stop ‘begatting’. Hey, I can dig it, the bible is pretty dull until you get to the good parts and they’re near the end. But, being taught the Gospel is still something every good Christian is expected to do, so where do you go to get your daily dose of God? Veggie Tales, that’s where. That’s right, welcome to the world of Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, Archie Asparagus, Laura Carrot, and all their veggie-based buddies. If ever there was a cartoon with all of its roots (get it?) solidly planted (get it?) in the food world, Veggie Tales is it. They sing, they dance, they joke, and they do a pretty bang up job of intermixing humor and excitement into the Bible verses they’re teaching. Didn’t Jesus turn water into V8?
How to appropriately describe Chowder for those who’ve never seen it… hmm… Chowder is a chef apprentice to an old, mustachioed cook named Mung Daal and they live and cater the town of Marzipan. Chowder is pretty much a lunk head and gets into some pretty bizarre adventures, typically with his friends Schnitzel (“Radda!”), Gazpacho, Panini, Gorgonzola, and Chestnut. You see where I’m going with this, right? Since the main theme of the show is cooking and food, every character is named after a piece of real eats and their adventures are just plain silly.
3) Strawberry Shortcake
Pretend for a second that you’re a girl. Unless you are a girl, in which case just pay attention. You are given a series of dolls with various hair colors and massive hats, all of which smell like specific fruity pastries, pies, cakes, and desserts. What would you suppose the next logical step would be in marketing these toys? Well, yes, cereal was one… but there was also a cartoon and, currently, there is a cartoon on HUB. Now wouldn’t you be excited? I suppose you would except for the simple fact that the whole shtick behind these toys was the fact that they smelled delicious. This particular selling point doesn’t transfer well to television. As you might imagine. Oh well, it still plays well to little girls who dream of living in a fairy land with possibly edible characters. Yum.
2) Aqua Teen Hunger Force
Meatwad. Master Shake. Frylock. Carl. This is New Jersey and these are the exploits of the ATHF. Why are they Fast Food? No one knows but them. I refuse to go further into detail siting the fact that if you haven’t even seen one episode of ATHF, no explanation is going to fix that.
1) Gummi Bears
This is it folks. This is the culmination of everything you could possibly ask for in a food-related cartoon. The show itself is based entirely on candy. That’s right, Disney just took a trip down the local sweets aisle and decided to animate Gummi Bears. It could have been anthropomorphic Hershey Kisses, so thank your lucky stars for that. Sure, the bears themselves aren’t really food-looking, but their soul purpose in life is to gather Gummi Berries for their Gummi Berry Juice. So there’s that for you food purists out there. So I’d definitely say this counts as the best Food Toon of all time. Also, it has a mad catchy tune.