9 Furry Facts About Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears  

Amazon
Amazon

Before DuckTales, Tale Spin, and House of Mouse, Disney’s first foray into television animation was Adventures of the Gummi Bears, a 1985-1991 series that aired Saturday mornings and featured a troop of benevolent bears with magical powers—very loosely based on the popular German candies—who help a young human boy oppose a tyrannical duke looking to seize their potent “Gummiberry juice.” Running for 65 episodes, the series helped usher in an era of Disney-produced television that would later help populate their growing Disney Channel programming block.

Like most ‘80s toons, it took plenty of cues from The Smurfs. Unlike those knockoffs, it retained much of the Disney touch. Check out some facts on the show’s origins, its controversial animation techniques, and why executives didn’t have much respect for the candy that inspired it.

1. IT WAS ONE OF DISNEY’S FIRST ANIMATED TV SERIES.

When Michael Eisner was brought on as Disney's CEO in 1984, one of his first official acts was to revisit the company’s longstanding policy of staying away from television series animation. Eisner believed that exposing the Disney brand on broadcast networks would be instrumental moving forward, so he started up an official television animation division. The first two projects were Gummi Bears and The Wuzzles, the latter based in part on a Hasbro toy concept about cross-breed animals like a Bumblelion (a bumblebee-slash-lion). While Wuzzles fizzled after one year, Gummi Bears aired on NBC, ABC, and in syndication through 1991.

2. EISNER PICKED GUMMIS OVER MICKEY.

During brainstorming sessions for potential series ideas, Eisner waved off any suggestion of bringing Mickey Mouse to Saturday mornings. The mouse was deemed too special to put on TV, according to Disney animation employee Tad Stones. Instead, Eisner pitched a mythology involving the Gummi (nee Gummy) Bears, a candy Eisner’s kid enjoyed. Although Eisner felt certain anything with the Gummi Bears label would be a hit, his creative team wasn't so sure ...

3. THE CREATIVE TEAM WAS A LITTLE WEIRDED OUT BY THE IDEA.

When Eisner assembled a creative think tank to ponder series ideas, Gummi Bears co-creator and former Disney recording studio staffer Jymn Magon admitted to being a little perplexed by Eisner’s insistence on developing a cartoon based on a candy. “We went into a coffee shop and kinda looked at each other and scratched our heads and said, ‘He’s crazy,’” Magon told the Great Big Beautiful Podcast in 2016. “Well, I mean, you know, it’s like, here’s your main character and we eat him every week, you know. That’s stupid! You know? ... So I went back to producing records, and I get a call on the phone, and it’s the president of the company: ‘Hey Jymn, it’s Michael.’ ‘Oh, hi.’ ‘Where’s my show?’ I thought, Great, you know, and I instantly start typing some of the worst ideas on the planet. We had a bad guy named Licorice Whip. We had a villainous, traitor gummy called Scummi Gummi. Oh, it was horrible.”

4. THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT LICENSING THE CANDY.

As a kind of public domain treat, Gummy Bears didn’t come with the burden of trying to negotiate a licensing fee from any candy manufacturer. Much like "jelly beans," “gummi bears” is a generic term with no central ownership, meaning Disney could bank on a child’s familiarity with the name without having to pay for the rights. This wasn’t a total net positive, however: Critics, like Peggy Charren of the Action for Children’s Television (ACT) group, chastised Disney for creating a show that might encourage kids to eat sugary candy.

Outside the scope of the show, they were doing everything but. Jon Lang, a marketer for the series, once told press that Gummys were like “a cross between three-week-old Jell-O and flavored rubber bands.”

5. IT WAS ONE OF MANY BEAR-ORIENTED CARTOONS ON THE AIR.

For reasons that may never be entirely clear, Saturday morning television in the mid-1980s was very preoccupied with the adventures of anthropomorphic bears. At the same time Gummi Bears aired, CBS was broadcasting The Berenstain Bears, an adaptation of the popular book series; ABC had landed The Care Bears, who used love and hugs instead of mauling their opponents; and Ewoks, a spinoff of the Star Wars franchise that featured the furry Endor creatures, who bore a heavy resemblance to teddy bears.  

6. IT WAS DISNEY DONE ON THE CHEAP.

Unlike the labor-intensive animation process of Disney’s feature films, Gummi Bears marked the company’s foray into the kind of time-conserving limited animation needed to meet a television production schedule. Animation was done in Japan and featured what was considered dialogue-driven scenes, with minimal movement of character faces and limbs as opposed to the conventional Disney technique of animating the entire body. While it was more impressive than most Saturday morning content, Disney purists still complained it was diluting the company’s famous devotion to quality cell animation.  

7. THEY CONSIDERED LEAVING THE DISNEY NAME OFF.

Because it was so difficult to do Disney-level animation on a television budget, there were occasional suggestions that the company could save itself some headaches by leaving the Disney brand off the series. Both Eisner and fellow executive Jeffrey Katzenberg disagreed, believing that the Disney theme parks would need a stream of new characters to use and that, regardless of what the title of the show was, a Disney-produced program couldn’t go on the air “and look like trash.”

8. IT INSPIRED GARGOYLES.

The 1994-1997 Disney animated series Gargoyles, about a band of stone-encased warriors from Scotland who reawaken in modern New York City, drew critical raves for its mature tones. Oddly, it came about because co-creator Greg Weisman was a big fan of Gummi Bears. “So we set out very consciously to create a show like Gummi Bears with that kind of rich backstory and mythology to it, but that would get more respect, honestly,” Weisman said in 2015. “So we did a couple things right off the bat with that in mind. One was, instead of cute little multicolored bears, we did cute little multicolored gargoyles!”

9. IT WAS PART OF A PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY.

The impact of violent imagery in children’s entertainment has been a perpetual topic of debate. In a 1993 Australian psychology experiment, researchers Ann Sanson and Christine Di Muccio observed behaviors in preschool children following exposure to one of two series: Gummi Bears and the comparatively violent Voltron. The authors then gave the children toys from each series. The group that watched and was then handed Voltron toys seemed to engage in more aggressive play than those who were exposed to the Bears. The apparent moral? Gummi Bears may have promoted cavities, but at least kids would keep their teeth on playgrounds.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Facts About Famed Paranormal Investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren  

Ed Warren and Lorraine Warren in Amityville II: The Possession (1982).
Ed Warren and Lorraine Warren in Amityville II: The Possession (1982).
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

When it comes to investigations of the paranormal kind, no two ghost hunters loom larger than Ed and Lorraine Warren. Over the course of 50 years, Ed, a demonologist, and Lorraine, a trance medium, looked into thousands of cases around the globe, and claimed to have encountered phenomena so scary that their exploits were often turned into films, including The Amityville Horror, The Conjuring movies, and The Haunting In Connecticut. But even if you're familiar with their most famous cases, there's probably still a lot you don't know about the Warrens.

1. Ed Warren grew up in a haunted house.

Ed Warren826 Paranormal via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When Ed was 5, he claimed he saw an apparition: a dot of light that grew until it became his family's landlady, who had died the year before. In The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren, Ed recalled that she was "semi-transparent, wearing what looked like some sort of shroud ... then she vanished." Soon after, Ed was having dreams of dead relatives he’d never met, including an aunt who would send him messages about his future, telling him that he would help many priests but never become a priest himself. "I'm not a priest today, but I do work closely with them," he said in The Demonologist.

2. Lorraine Warren discovered her abilities when she was a child.

Like Ed, Lorraine began having unusual experiences when she was young, too—but she just assumed everyone had those same abilities. That all changed when she was 12. As she recalled in The Demonologist, it was Arbor Day at her all-girls' private school, and her classmates had just planted a sapling. "Just as soon as they put the sapling in the ground, I saw it as a fully grown tree ... filled with leaves blowing in the wind," she said. When a nun asked her why she was staring at the sky, Lorraine responded, "I told her I was just looking up into the tree ... 'Are you seeing the future?' she asked me, just as sternly. 'Yes,' I admitted, 'I guess I am.'"

3. Ed and Lorraine Warren began dating as teenagers.

Ed and Lorraine both lived in Connecticut and met in 1944, when they were both just 16 years old—Ed worked as an usher at a movie theater that Lorraine and her mother frequented. They began dating, and soon after, Ed went off to fight World War II.

4. Ed and Lorraine Warren got married in 1945, thanks to a sunken ship.

In 1945, when Ed was 17 years old, he enlisted in the Navy. He had only been deployed for a total of four months when he was sent back home on a 30-day "Survivor's Leave" after his ship went down in the North Atlantic Sea. It was during that short break that Ed and Lorraine got married, then he returned to war. The couple later had a daughter named Judy.

5. The Warrens thought they'd make their livings as artists.

The Conjuring (2013).Warner Bros.

After the war, the Warrens had to figure out how to make a living. "Each of us had skills as landscape artists, and we each harbored a desire to paint," Lorraine said. Ed had taken art classes, so, she said, "we began our marriage under the assumption that we were going to be artists."

Rather than painting landscapes, the Warrens decided on a more unusual subject on which to focus: haunted houses, which Ed found in the newspaper. They'd go to the houses, sketch them, then knock on the door and "offer [the sketch] for information about the haunting," Lorraine said. If the story was compelling enough, they'd actually paint the house and sell that artwork later. They spent about five years going around the United States, painting and investigating haunted houses.

6. Lorraine Warren was initially a skeptic.

Despite her early experiences with clairvoyance, Lorraine didn’t believe in ghosts until later in life, after she and Ed began visiting and painting haunted houses. "In the beginning, I was more than a bit wary of the people with whom we spoke," she said in The Demonologist. "I thought they were kind of suffering from overactive imaginations or were just making things up to get attention." But when she noticed the similarities between the experiences—including from people who had never met, and who were from opposite sides of the country—she became a believer.

7. Ed and Lorraine Warren founded the New England Society for Psychic Research in 1952.

The Warrens founded the New England Society for Psychic Research to document their cases, and they also created The Occult Museum—a space in their Monroe, Connecticut, home, which adjoined Ed's office—to house haunted objects and the files and tapes from their investigations. Today, the NESPR is run by the Warrens's daughter Judy and son-in-law, Tony Spera, and its website keeps a log of some of the cases the Warrens investigated, including that of an alleged werewolf and the infamous possessed doll, Annabelle.

8. Lorraine Warren had her abilities tested.

Lorraine WarrenJason Kempin, Getty Images

As the Warrens began taking on bigger and bigger cases, skepticism about the couple grew. To quiet critics, Lorraine agreed to be tested by Dr. Thelma Moss, an actress-turned-psychologist and parapsychologist (a researcher with an interest in the occult) working in a UCLA lab studying things like Kirlian photography. She found that Lorraine's clairvoyance was “far above average,” according to The Demonologist.

9. Ed and Lorraine Warren never charged money for their investigations.

Instead, they made a living from giving lectures at colleges, and by licensing the rights to their stories for film, TV, and book projects.

10. Ed and Lorraine Warren saw their main roles as educators.

The Warrens began giving lectures because, according to The Demonologist, there was a growing interest in the occult in the late 1960s, and many of the people they saw affected by dark phenomena were college students. They hoped that, through their lectures, they might discourage people from exploring the occult in the first place.