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What's Cooking When Martha Stewart Meets the VeggieTales?
Over the past four years Martha Stewart has carved out a place of honor in our household. At first she was but an occasional guest, arriving every month or so on the cover of the glossy Martha Stewart Living magazine. Then she became a regular member of the family, appearing from Monday to Friday on our TV. Our computer's Web browser automatically invokes marthastewart.com to appear on the screen. We have consulted "Martha Stewart" paint chips when decorating the kitchen, purchased at Kmart some "Martha Stewart" French-style bedspreads for our daughters' room, and enjoyed the results of more than a fair share of Martha's recipes.
A successful caterer, Martha has employed her entertaining skills to become the North American arbiter of what constitutes gracious living. It's true, of course, that people love to make fun of Martha. Her perfectionism and her know-it-all, do-it-all, have-it-all manner can be hard to bear and easy to mock. But after enjoying far too much of a Martha-inspired chocolate cake, I decided I could no longer hide that she has greatly enriched my life (and my waistline).
If Martha Stewart is ubiquitous in her chosen domain, so too are VeggieTales in their realm, the world of children's entertainment. Created in 1993 by Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki through their company, Big Idea Productions, the VeggieTales video series uses computer-animated characters such as Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber and Junior Asparagus to illustrate biblical stories and messages through silly situations and even sillier songs. On paper this doesn't sound like a formula for astonishing commercial success, but in fact the distinctive VeggieTales mixture of "Sunday morning values, Saturday morning fun" has sold more than 20 million videos, sprouting into a growth industry that also includes books, CDs, Vacation Bible School materials, and a panoply of plush toys, finger puppets, ties, party supplies, and key chains.
I first heard about VeggieTales just after Martha became ...