Meet Veggie Tales
VeggieTales is one of the nationís best-selling childrenís video series. Created by computer animation designer Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki, VeggieTales debuted nationwide in 1992, with itís first episode, Whereís God When Iím S-Scared?. With title variations of biblical stories and parables, Big Idea Productions (Vischerís company) has produced Dave and the Giant Pickle, Rack, Shack and Benny, Are You My Neighbor?, Josh and the Big Wall, and EstherÖ the Girl Who Became Queen. They have also produced many other 30-minute shows that are not directly bible stories.
It took four years to sell the first million videos, and six months to sell the second million. Josh and the Big Wall, starring singing squash in the Sinai Desert, shipped 250,000 copies in the first month. Thatís a lot of vegetables for kids to consume! Is it possible that grown-ups are enjoying more tomatoes and cucumbers, too?
Although created entirely on computers, lots of man-hours go into producing each VeggieTales video. About $300,000 worth of computer equipment and five months are needed to create a single half-hour episode. Big Idea employs more than 40 people, including modelers and animators. All the songs and sound effects are recorded in the companyís Chicago headquarters, and almost every voice is generated by someone on staff. Phil Vischerís wife, Lisa, is the voice of Jr. Asparagus. Phil himself is the wisecracking voice of Bob. Partner Mike is ditzy Larry.
There are VeggieTales stuffed toys and squeeze toys, stamping kits and learning kits. Bob and Larry, Jr. Asparagus, and Pa Grape teach about colors, numbers, letters, shapes, and time. There are VeggieTales puzzles, dinner sets, diaries, and craft kits. There are CDs and cassettes of those catchy VeggieTunes. And thereís dressing to go with all this salad! Youóand your kids, of courseócan wear VeggieTales T-shirts and caps, and sport VeggieTales neckties on Sunday.
What are the guys behind all this thinking? Phil Vischer wants the videos and all the other merchandise to do one thing: teach kids about God in a way that makes sense to them. "A pencil with a cross or Bible verse wonít attract non-Christian kids," he says. "But a pencil with pictures of neat-looking, funny vegetables with faces will . . . I want to produce quality peripheral products that will cause children to bump into the videos and finally bump into the message of Godís truth." (Computing Today) But why have he and his co-creator Nawrocki settled on vegetables to teach children to honor their parents, love their neighbors, tell the truth, and trust in God? "When we started out, we couldnít afford to animate anything that had arms and legs, so we picked things that donít," Nawrocki says. "Vegetables hop, you know."
Last updated June 2008.