I remember the California Raisins as toys that you could get from Hardee’s. I must have seen commercials about them, or else why would I love them so much, but I don’t remember that. I remember getting them with Hardee’s Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits,
and I remember being so grateful for how cool they were that I built a stage out of the scummy, melted sugar-caked Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits box so my Raisins would have a place to perform. I colored it, added tinsel, and set up the Raisins on it. There is a picture of this, and mom, if you’re reading this, could we try and find it when I come home this year?
But the Raisins have a longer history than that.
They first popped up in a claymation ad sponsored by the California Raisin Advisory Board (yeah, that exists) in 1986. The “Board” was apparently frustrated with the lack of ideas and one guy yelled “We have tried everything but dancing raisins singing ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’!” I really hope that story is true. Here’s the first appearance of the Raisins:
It was wildly successful, and more commercials were made, as well as two TV specials in 1988 and 1990, a Christmas special in 1987, four studio albums, and a Saturday morning cartoon (which is hilarious, given that the claymation part of it was what made it so cool).
They were also given names- AC, Beebop, Stretch, and Red. I think I can figure out who Red and Stretch are, but I’m at a loss for the others.
The Raisins made more money than the sale of actual raisins did in 1988.
In the 90s they also designed a video game called California Raisins: The Grape Escape.
It was never widely released and is considered a collectors’ item.
The California Raisin Advisory Board rebooted the Raisins in the early 2000s, and they’re kinda sprinkled all over the current CRAB (hahahahahaha) website, helpfully pointing at recipes and things. But my favorite thing? They’re on Facebook.
Holy shit, I went to the blog, and let me just show you an excerpt. It’s too much. Go here if you want to read more.
Anywhoo, a lot of you have been wondering what I’ve been up to as of late. I got to be honest, Times are tough. The market for dancing raisins just isn’t what it used to be. My girlfriend up and left. And because of my interest only loan, the mortgage payment on my raisin box just doubled. But, thanks to some well-polished glad-handling skills, I’ve reconnected with my friends at the California Raisins Marketing Board, and they in turn granted me these few column inches for which to reconnect with you, my beloved fans, and keep you up to date on the many happenings in my life. I’ll be posting blogs and hopefully some pictures, so be sure to visit this section of the site from time to time. And do check out the new videos from my friends at California Raisins posted elsewhere on this site. In my personal opinion, they’re no Dancing Raisin grooving to “heard it through the grapevine”, but they’re still pretty cool.
Man, times are tough all over. A fucking singing raisin can’t even get a job.