Heroes in a Half Shell

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April 5, 2012

8:11 PM

Although the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was technically created in 1980s, it remained wildly popular during the 90s.   Originally, the show aimed to parody four prominent 1980s comics.  Riddled with humorous catch phrases, TMNT was adapted into an animated television series with accompanying action figures.  The pizza-loving reptilian jokesters quickly became pop culture icons, dominating weekend morning television.

Interestingly, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dominated more than just our Saturday mornings – TMNT spawned a surprisingly large number of food products.  In fact, the popularity of TMNT-themed food is apparently prevalent enough to merit an entire Wikipedia page.  Like most popular kids’ shows, TMNT had its own Ninja Turtles Cereal, which consisted of sweetened rice chex with marshmallows.  However, the shapes of the marshmallows left much to be desired.  Were the orange marshmallows hyphens?  And why were the turtle shaped marshmallows shaped like baby turtles?  Moreover, General Mills does not produce rice chex cereal with marshmallows for a reason: the two foods taste absolutely horrible together.

Unfortunately, the Ninja Turtles Cereal is probably the least offensive of the plethora of TMNT-themed food products.  For example, McCain, the maker of Pizza Pockets, produced TMNT Frozen Pizza Mini Slices with green crusts and apple topping.  Honestly, I am grateful I could not find any clear images of these gooey cheesy green apple disasters.  The most famous TMNT food experiments sold in stores were the Hostess Ninja Turtle Pudding Pies.  These unusual treats consisted of a green sugar crust enveloping “Vanilla Puddin’ Power,” not to be confused with mere vanilla pudding.  These caloric sugar bombs have collected a cult following on the Internet.  Since Hostess quit production of Ninja Turtle Pudding Pie, TMNT lovers have taken it upon themselves to recreate the pudding pie recipe in all its grotesque glory.  A quick Google search of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pies recipe” yields links to several recipe variations, all requiring atrocious amounts of green food dye.  Nevertheless, these pies are a guaranteed to be a hit at the any 90s themed party.

Coincidentally, Nickelodeon plans to air a new CGI-animated TMNT series this year.  Donatello, who traditionally wielded a bo staff, will carry a naginata instead.  Similarly, Michaelangelo will use kusarigama instead of nunchaku.  As such, all four mutant ninja turtles will now wield bladed weapons.  Rob Paulsen, the original voice actor for Raphael, will return to act as Donatello.  Additionally, Sean Astin, known for his role as Sam in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, will voice Raphael.  Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures have also coordinated the future theater release of a TMNT movie to accompany the new television series.  Thus, we can expect a noticeably large comeback attempt by TMNT this year.  But will children of today love TMNT as much as 90s children did?  Or is TMNT too outdated?

The decline of TMNT’s popularity can be attributed primarily to the release of Power Rangers and the aging TMNT fan base.  Now that Nickelodeon’s new TMNT series does not have to compete with Power Rangers, TMNT has a chance of capturing young new fans in addition to the original TMNT fans.  So be prepared for the possible revival of Turtlemania. If children today have any sense, they will love TMNT just as much as we did.

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  • Cassie Holmes