ABC’s Awesome Saturday Morning Cartoon PSAs
Most of us remember waking up as kids on Saturday morning around 6am just to watch cartoons. It was a ritual. I did it, and I loved it. There were so many good cartoons when I was a kid. But it wasn’t just cartoons shows I remember from my early Saturday morning viewings, I remember fun and musical public service announcements that would air during commercial breaks. We’ve all seen them. They have colorful characters, clever songs and wind up teaching us about our government, good eating habits or proper hygeine. The most remembered and visible of these public service announcements were the Schoolhouse Rock shorts. Airing on the ABC network, Schoolhouse Rock taught kids the Preamble to the Constitution, how your nervous system works and how a bill becomes a law. But ABC produced more than just the Schoolhouse Rock shorts. ABC produced scores of other cartoon PSAs with catchy tunes and fun mascots that taught kids about healthy eating and how to get a job. Many times these PSAs are lumped into Schoolhouse Rock when we think back on them, but they were separately produced with different voice actors.
Let’s look at some of the other awesome cartoon PSAs produced by ABC in the ’70s and ’80s. You will probably remember most of these, if not, your welcome for putting songs about nutty snack mix into your head for the next 12 hours.
Time for Timer – ABC starting producing these “Timer” commercials in the early ’70s. These are probably the most remembered shorts next to Schoolhouse Rock as they played well into the 1990s. I actually didn’t realize this little guy’s name was Timer, even though I’ve seen the clips a thousand times and at the beginning of every one he says, “Time for Timer!”. I’m not even sure I knew what that meant. Now, I get it. Timer was supposed to represent a person’s “biological clock”. He carried around a giant stopwatch that went off whenever something was about to happen in the body (hunger, sleepiness, etc). None of the Timer shorts have titles, they are known by their catchy songs. His most famous is probably “Hanker for a Hunka Cheese!”. Another favorite of mine is “Sunshine on a Stick” where Timer teaches us how to make ice pops using orange juice. I remember actually doing this several times. I also love the “Eat Breakfast” short because the song is catchy (it actually reminds me of the songs in a Rankin-Bass Christmas Special). There’s also “U Are What U Eat” which features cool animation of the “factory” in your body. Timer was so popular that he actually made an appearance on Family Guy.
ABC Bod Squad – Bod Squad shorts were also produced in the early ’70s and, like Timer, played well into the ’90s. Also like Timer, the Bod Squad promoted healthy eating and good hygiene. Their most famous short would probably be “Yuck Mouth” sung by Scatman Crothers who also did “Nutty Gritty”. Watch “Nutty Gritty” and I defy you to get the song out of your head for the rest of the day. You are welcome. Also check out “The Munchies” which warns of the dangers of eating when you aren’t hungry. According to “The Munchies” PSA, if you gain weight, you should build a ship in a bottle, as it’ll get you back in shape. I’m serious, the kid in the PSA builds a ship in a bottle to work off excess weight from the munchies. It’s awesome. Speaking of, it’s interesting with all of these cartoon PSAs playing throughout our childhoods we still have the overwhelming obesity epidemic that we do. We didn’t listen to our childhood PSAs, people!!!
Zack of All Trades – I had completely forgotten about this group of PSAs until I started researching this article. Zach is a cool guy with his first initial stitched to his sweater who apparently lives in the radio as he floats out on a stream of music when he’s needed. The songs for this PSA had the best arrangements and are the jazziest on this list. Watching these YouTube videos I forgot how good these songs are. Name Game, is probably my favorite. The song is an interpretation of the song, Name Game, and tells kids how their interests can translate into real world jobs. Future Blob is also very catchy and tells kids how to prepare for the future. Jack and Jill has Zach telling his friends, Jack and Jill, they can’t be shifty layabouts all day, they have to prepare and get jobs. Before this article, I would have said Timer is my favorite, but Zach has made a strong case for himself being my new BFF. If “Nutty Gritty” is still in your head, listen to “Name Game” a few times, it’ll be replaced.
Here are a few other ABC PSAs that were produced in the same vein as “The Bod Squad” but weren’t identified as being a part of any PSA group title. Click the images to see the PSA on YouTube.
The Chopper – One of my favs. Great song and I love that the title character is a Fonzi wannabe. Watch as Fonzi-Chopper tells us to exercise our “choppers” by eating “good, hard food”. It’s a classic. Question, where the hell did Chopper find that gi-normous celery stick at the end!? It’s bigger than he is! And is the nut and tomato standing next to Chopper going to let him chomp down on their celery friend? Where’s the love?
Don’t Drown Your Food – Staring Louis the Lifeguard, saving food items from drowning in condiments. I know this one was popular, but it’s not one of my favorites, probably because I DO drown my food in mayo, salt, ketchup and goop.
Make a Saturdae – I totally remember thinking this one was lame when it aired. Pineapple, banana and whipped cream is not the same as ice cream and chocolate sauce. Besides, look at the picture above of a Saturdae and I dare you to tell me it doesn’t look like a penis.
Those were some of my favorites, are there any others you remember?
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