Top left to bottom right: Cubbi, Gruffi, Tummi, Sunni, Grammi. Heide's Gummi Bear is not in evidence.


Original medium: Candy
Produced by: Henry Heide, Inc.
First Appeared: 1869
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Cartoons whose ongoing characters were based on sugary treats were not quite a new concept when Disney's Gummi Bears was …

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… introduced — Linus the Lionhearted, which starred the spokestoons for various sucrose-laden products of Post Cereals, was a Saturday morning fixture from 1964-69.

Of course, the Federal Communications Commission cast a less jaundiced eye back then toward shows that existed for the sole purpose of promoting a commercial product. In any case, Gummi Bears must surely be the first animated entertainment based on a well-known and long-established candy product, that exhibited little or no connection to the product itself.

It was also the first half-hour TV series Disney produced — or at least tied for the distinction, debuting on NBC September 14, 1985, the same day The Wuzzles, also by Disney, started on CBS. But Wuzzles sank after a mere 13 episodes, whereas Gummi Bears (named after a fruit-flavored delight produced since 1869 by Henry Heide, Inc., a confectionary now owned by Hershey Foods) remained in production for years.

The animated Gummi Bears' back-story has it that they are a species of magical folk who once lived in harmony with mankind, until humans started putting too much effort into discovering Gummi secrets. "Now" (that is, a fairy tale time full of knights, castles, ogres, etc., vaguely reminiscent of Medieval Europe), most have gone far away, and those remaining generally live in underground warrens.

The series focuses on a half-dozen Gummis — Grammi Gummi (the matriarch of the clan, voiced by June Foray (Rocky the Flying Squirrel)), Tummi Gummi (the good-natured adult male lead, voiced by Lorenzo Music (Garfield)), Gruffi Gummi (a kid with the personality of Grumpy in Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, originally voiced by Bill Scott (George of the Jungle) but done by Corey Burton (Zeus in Disney's Hercules) after Scott's death), Sunni Gummi (a female teenage type, voiced by Katie Leigh (several voices in Bobbie's World)), Cubbi Gummi (the youngest, voiced by Noelle North (Slouchy Smurf)) and Zummi Gummi (whose Great Book of Gummi seems almost as comprehensive as The Junior Woodchucks' Guide Book), first voiced by Paul Winchell (Dick Dastardly) and later by Jim Cummings (Darkwing Duck)). They are occasionally assisted by Gusto Gummi (a free-thinking quasi-hermit, voiced by Rob Paulsen (Yakko Warner in Animaniacs)).

These Gummis have become involved in the efforts of young Cavin (David Faustino, whose voice credits are sparse but whose "face acting" includes the son on Married With Children), a page in the castle of King Gregor of Dunwyn (Michael Rye, narrator of Dragon's Lair), to foil the plans of Duke Igthorn of Drekmore (also voiced by Rye) who simply can't understand why anyone wouldn't want him to achieve all-encompassing power.

NBC broadcast Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears on Saturday mornings for four years, after which it moved to ABC and merged with Winnie the Pooh to form an hour-long show. It continued there until 1991. 65 episodes were made, which in 1990 began being syndicated as part of The Disney Afternoon (a two-hour block of programming that also, over the years, included DuckTales, TaleSpin and various other Disney productions.

The Gummi Bears show is still seen from time to time on Disney-owned cable stations, The Disney Channel and Toon Disney.


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Text ©2002-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © The Walt Disney Co.