…and why are they do darn delicious – I mean, cute! Delicious!
When I was working on my last “Do You Remember” article for September (which covered Back to School stuff), I talked about this lunchbox I had as an eight-year-old. It was of licensed characters I had completely forgotten about over the years, but only because it wasn’t long-running venture by either of the companies that made them possible.
Funny thing is, this may have been the only thing I ever owned of these characters, and I’m not even sure if I knew who these characters were.
I’m still convinced that because it was pink, therefore I needed it.
Even if I don’t remember the characters themselves, I knew I had a Yum Yums lunchbox. But that leaves the important question: Who are the Yum Yums?
The Story of The Yum Yums
The Yum Yums were a licensed character created by Hallmark in 1989, with toys created by Kenner. Think Care Bears for Hallmark shoppers, and these are the Yum Yums (which explains the similarities, since Kenner produced the Care Bears toys only a few years before the Yum Yums).
Upload via Tristan Johns
The characters were different animals named for different goodies, with the treat they’re named for printed on their tummies, ears, and feet.
They also had cutesy names related to the food they represented – Cheery Cherry Poodle, Chuckle Chip Bear, Goody Grape Mouse, Jumpin’ Jellybean Bunny, Lucky Lemon Lion, and Peppymint Kitty, just to name a few.
Images: Yum Yum – Chuckle Chip Bear (Ghost of the Doll) / Care Bears – Cheer Bear (Amazon)
So while they didn’t look at all alike, the concept was similar. In fact, The Yum Yums were as if the Care Bears had a collision with a candy store. The property lasted from 1989 until 1991, and during that time, had its own stuffed animals and ancillary items common to any licensed character (aside from the lunchbox I carried in second grade, there were Halloween costumes, slippers, and iron on transfers).
I kid you not. Iron on transfers.
The Yum Yums had enough commercial appeal, that they even had their own one-off animated special produced through Hanna-Barbera, which aired on CBS on April 7, 1990. You’d think that was Easter Sunday, and CBS was airing a special, but I checked – it aired on a Saturday.
The special was intended to be nothing more than that – a special. No series was to come of it (though I’m wondering if that was a plan that
Upload via Ronnie Byrd
That theme song alone must have been a low point for Hanna Barbera. I’m pretty sure this was where everything began taking a downward turn, meaning things really did go sour for them.
You have your jokes, and I have my…pathetic jokes.
Either way, The Yum Yums made their quiet exit as Hallmark-licensed characters by 1991, which probably meant my lunchbox was a relic by the time I finished second grade. And unlike Rainbow Brite, who is still making the world colorful (and Hallmark rich off of nostalgia-loving 80s girls), The Yum Yums seemingly vanished off the face of the earth…except for Japan.
The Yum Yums Conquer Japan!
In 2011, a Japanese company (under license from Hallmark) reissued The Yum Yums as Japanese animated culture only could – with literally hundreds of different types of merchandise. Plushies, bags, clothing, cell phone cases, candy, and stationary – nothing of a physical nature was left without the mark of The Yum Yums!
Eat your heart out, Hello Kitty/All Sanrio Properties!
The nice part about this reintroduction is that the design of The Yum Yums was untouched by time. It had been twenty years since we’d laid eyes on these delightfully delicious-smelling characters, and they still looked like they’d stepped out of the 1980s completely unscathed by time and the need to improve on a design.
Who Were The Yum Yums?
The original Yum Yums were Cheery Cherry Poodle, Chuckle Chip Bear, Goody Grape Mouse, Jumpin’ Jellybean Bunny, Lucky Lemon Lion, and Peppymint Kitty.
Images: Ghost of the Doll (via Google)
Their party-themed “cousins” added six more animals to the lineup – Candy Apple Kitty, Cotton Dandy Poodle, Gigglin’ Gumball Mouse, Jolly Lollypop Lion, Merry Marshmallow Bunny, and Teddy Cakes Bear.
And for those who like their licensed characters with a side of holiday cheer/appeal, there was Christmas Cookie Bear, and yes, it smelled exactly as the name indicated.
So What Happened to The Yum Yums?
Short answer: I have no idea.
I’d like to think Hallmark moved on from the property after a short time, but perhaps it either didn’t sell well, or Kenner discontinued making things that reminded people of Care Bears, which by 1991, were so 1985? I wish I knew, and the internet (for pretty much the first time ever) isn’t helping!
Of course, I really am still wondering about that lunchbox I had. Were the early 1990s really at a crossroads for girl-themed character lunchboxes that this was the one that appealed to me most? Considering that I was almost eight years old, female, and liked pink, it isn’t a huge stretch that I would have picked out this lunchbox, but I’m still wondering if I even knew about these characters when I chose it.
Honestly, the characters are cute enough, but maybe kids of the 90s were done with cute and cuddly characters that had all kinds of appeal in the 1980s? Perhaps, but these are still a sweet (no pun intended) treat of a time where cute, cuddly, greeting card company-produced, and licensed was on its way out
Today, if you want a Yum Yums, eBay has ’em, and they will run you between $20 and $50 for the 12″ plushies (less, of course, for smaller plushies and keychains from the reissued line), with various offerings from both series.
Perhaps The Yum Yums are meant to be relegated (at least, in the United States) to the bargain bin of the nostalgic collective, where once in a great while, their very existence pushes itself into the conscious mind.
It’s a bin that probably smells like candy-scented plush and covered with sparkles and lint. Would you expect anything more?