There are few commercials that are good enough to spawn an entire sensation, but The California Raisins did just that. It all started as a campaign to get more people to eat raisins. Seriously, that's how it happened. Apparently the California Raisin Advisory Board said that "we have tried everything but dancing raisins singing 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine" so they gave that a try and wow, did it ever work.
The ads started with some claymation raisins singing "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" and everyone seemed to go nuts over it. So much so that these little guys got to be in an Emmy Award-winning Christmas special, a mockumentary-style movie about them (also nominated for an Emmy), and eventually got their own cartoon show.
They were plastered onto anything and everything that the marketing team could get their hands on. Anything you could think of, they had it.
There were hats:
Sleeping bags and blankets:
A board game:
And even a video game:
These commercials even inspired a short-lived cartoon that debuted in the early 90s that lasted 13 episodes.
Even though they were such a huge sensation, the campaign came to a quick conclusion for a super strange reason. Apparently, the California Raisin Advisory Board had to stop production because the cost was twice their earnings. The organization ended up closing in 1994 after disagreements with farmers over payment to the organization.
There have been rumors that they might make a movie about the California Raisins, but really no new information has come out since 2015 so who knows if that will happen. For now, we will just have to remember them as they were and enjoy all their hits on YouTube!