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 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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

The Hilarious Andy Bernard Blooper You Can Actually See in The Office

Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in The Office.
Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't love the humor of The Office, and even the cast themselves couldn't get enough of the sometimes cringe-worthy comedy. In a past interview, Ed Helms, who played the hilarious Andy Bernard, revealed the one scene he just could not stop laughing in during filming.

As Looper reports, the actor stopped by The Dan Patrick Show in 2018 to talk all things Dunder Mifflin. When asked if he had a hard time keeping the laughter to a minimum, Helms revealed there had been a number of times he couldn't keep a straight face. In fact, he had to hide from the camera in one scene to mask his laughter, which made it into the final cut.

"I was a disaster. Just breaking all the time. Steve Carell, he just slays me," Helms said. "A lot of times, if I was doing a scene with Steve, I would have to look at his chin. Because I couldn't look him in the eyes. I would lose it." When looking back on the holiday episode "Secret Santa," the actor recalled, "I had to duck behind a plant. You can see in the actual episode in the background. And, by the way, that was like take 30 because I had been laughing in every single take."

If you look closely at the moment where Kevin sits on Michael's lap, you can also see Mindy Kaling failing to hide her laughter in the background. This scene really had the Dunder Mifflin crew losing it, just like the fans watching from home.

[h/t Looper]