If you miss talking to tomatoes, smiling at squashes or waltzing up and down the produce aisle, you may have wondered, where did all the veggies go? And if you don’t know what I’m referencing then you might as well stop reading right now.
Since 1993, VeggieTales have been the leading animated evangelical outreach centered on produce. Though these guys never really went away, you might be surprised to learn where they have ended up.
The original VeggieTales shorts were the work of Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki under the the Big Idea Entertainment banner. Vischer had originally planned the series to be based on a group of candy bars, but his wife suggested that parents may have preferred that their children learn lessons from a more healthier source. At the time, the digital animation programs were limited on what they could do, so creating vegetables without hands and feet was a simpler option.
Since the very first episode, Where’s God When I’m S-Scared?, they were only available on VHS tapes, but over the years, these veggies have been popping up all over the place. But keeping up with the VeggieTales hasn’t been easy and their lives behind the scenes have been anything but a bowl of cherries.
Though created by Big Idea Productions in 1989, VeggieTales videos have partnered with various companies over the years with some experiences better than others. The company has been hit with a lawsuit, declared bankruptcy, sold, repackaged as Big Idea Entertainment, controlled by others and other ups and downs.
From 2006-2009, classic VeggieTales classic were repackaged as a Saturday morning show for NBC. It was a ratings win for the peacock network but much of the Christian messages had been scrubbed out (something that Vischer says he didn’t agree to). In 2012, Big Idea had been acquired by DreamWorks Animation who created two new shows (VeggieTales in the House and VeggieTales in the City) for Netflix which ran from 2014 to 2017. Those shows were geared for a younger audience and diehard fans complained that the characters didn’t look or act like themselves anymore. The Christian messages were watered down too.
But a light shown on the veggies once again in 2016 when NBCUniversal took over DreamWorks Animation. They agreed to let Vischer and his crew create new content in the style and theology that these veggies were meant for in a new series simply titled, The VeggieTales Show.
Instead of the kitchen countertop, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber now put on Broadway-style shows in Mr. Nezzer’s theater retelling Bible stories and parody pop culture at the same time. The show begins with a question from a viewer and pair answer that question by putting on a show.
In 2019, The VeggieTales Show began airing on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and new episodes began being shown on TBN’s streaming service, Yippee this year. New episodes of the new series launch each month including When Being Good Means Giving Up (released on August 1), A ShakeSparagus Play – A Lesson in Humility, Cool to be Kind, The Power of Love, A Lifetime Supply of Joy, God Wants Us to Make Peace and The Best Christmas Gift.
Complimenting these new monthly episodes, Yippee TV also shares new VeggieTales library compilations each includes a remix of a popular silly songs and the largest library of VeggieTales episodes available on any platform.
And what about those 3-2-1 Penguins? They are currently being shown on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.