25 Fun Facts About Nickelodeon's TV Heyday
Whether you preferred the drama of Hey Dude, the postmodern sensibility of Clarissa Explains It All, or the gross-out humor of Ren & Stimpy, if you were a kid in the '80s or '90s, there's a good chance your favorite TV channel was Nickelodeon. Here's what went on behind the scenes, as uncovered by Matthew Klickstein in Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age.
1. Nickelodeon's green and orange color scheme has a special meeting.
Designer Tom Corey chose orange and lime green for Nickelodeon's logo because they're international distress colors.
2. Nickelodeon's green slime went through a variety of recipes.
There were many different recipes for the famous green slime that originated on You Can't Do That on Television. A few key ingredients: Cream of Wheat, green food coloring, Johnson's baby shampoo, vegetable oil, and occasionally cottage cheese.
3. Nickelodeon's kid actors got a bonus for getting slimed.
Roger Price, creator of You Can't Do That on Television, slimed kids for saying, "I don't know," because he found it annoying. And dumping water for saying "water"? That was just funny. After the cast started complaining about how much slime and water were dumped on them, they received bonus payments—$25 to $50 extra—for getting soaked.
4. Ghostbusters's creators had an issue with Nickelodeon's green slime.
The creators of Ghostbusters, released in 1984, tried to sue Price for stealing the idea of green slime. They dropped the lawsuit when he pointed out that he'd been sliming kids since 1979, so Ghostbusters must have stolen the idea from him.
5. The kids on Nickelodeon's earliest shows didn't get residuals.
The child actors on the early shows didn't end up rich. Early Nickelodeon was low-budget and non-union, so they never got residuals.
6. You Can't Do That on Television didn't allow parents on the set.
The kids weren't allowed to take scripts home, either.
7. Nickelodeon Studios originally printed the blimp logo on its toilet paper.
But visitors kept stealing it, so they switched to plain.
8. The Double Dare set was designed to look like a bathroom.
Given the mess the kids on the show made, it seems appropriate.
9. Double Dare was hesitant to cast clumsy kids.
Double Dare didn't allow contestants who'd had a number of previous injuries.
10. Because the hot lights on-set would bake Cream of Wheat, Double Dare made its slime with applesauce.
The rowdy crew, known for recreational drug use off-set, called the slime GAK after the street name for heroin.
11. All that green slime did not thrill Double Dare host Marc Summers.
Marc Summers has OCD and sometimes struggled with all the slime and mess on the job.
12. Casio offered Nickelodeon $1 million to put its logo on the Double Dare clock.
The network declined the company's offer.
13. Nickelodeon had some intel about kids and doo-wop music.
Nickelodeon recorded a number of doo-wop bumpers, those short clips played between a show and a commercial, because research shows that kids respond well to doo-wop music.
14. Pete & Pete paid tribute to The Catcher in the Rye.
On Pete & Pete, Little Pete's signature red hunting cap was an homage to The Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield.
15. Practically nobody understood the Pete & Pete theme song.
Only Mark Mulcahy, who wrote and sang the Pete & Pete theme song, knows what it's really about—or can easily decipher all the words.
16. There was almost a Clarissa Explains It All album.
The group name was Clarissa and the Straitjackets. The first single was "This Is What Na-Na Means."
17. Nickelodeon was careful about letting kids play with fire.
The Midnight Society kids on Are You Afraid of the Dark? weren't allowed to be shown lighting the campfire.
18. Alex Mack was supposed to be a teen boy.
Alex Mack of The Secret World of Alex Mack was first written as a male character.
19. The Kids' Choice Awards used to be voted on with a side of fries.
The polling for the Kids' Choice Awards was originally done at amusement parks or McDonald's.
20. You probably have Geraldine Laybourne to thank for your favorite Nick show.
Geraldine Laybourne ran Nickelodeon from 1980 to 1996, turning the lowest-rated cable network into #1. She left for a job at ... Disney.
21. The Ren & Stimpy Show's creator was fired pretty early on.
The warped mind behind The Ren & Stimpy Show, John Kricfalusi, was fired during the second season due to "creative differences" and ongoing work disputes. Nickelodeon Games Animation produced the last three seasons without him.
22. Geraldine Laybourne didn't think that The Ren & Stimpy Show was a good match for Nickelodeon.
Laybourne later said Ren & Stimpy should've been a show on Nickelodeon's struggling sister channel, MTV.
23. There was a fun connection between Rugrats and Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
E.G. Daily, the voice of Tommy Pickles on Rugrats, played Dottie in Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
24. The Anti-Defamation League took issue with Rugrats.
Rugrats cut down on appearances by Boris and Minka, Didi Pickles' immigrant parents, when the Anti-Defamation League complained that they were offensive Jewish caricatures.
25. Rugrats was co-created by a married couple whose marriage ended before the series did
Co-creators Gábor Csupó and Arlene Klasky divorced while working together on Rugrats, but remained business partners.
This story has been updated for 2020.