Do Muppets + Coffee Lead to Violence?

Does watching Muppets commit acts of wanton violence lead to aggressive behavior?

Maybe someone could do a study on that.

In the meantime, check out these old black-and-white TV commercials for Wilkins Coffee. SuperPunch explains:

In 1957, Jim Henson was approached by a Washington, D.C. coffee company to produce ads for Wilkins Coffee… From 1957 to 1961, Henson made 179 commercials for Wilkins Coffee…


The ads starred the cheerful Wilkins, who liked Wilkins Coffee, and the grumpy Wontkins, who hated it. Wilkins would often do serious harm to Wontkins in the ads — blowing him up, stabbing him with a knife, and smashing him with a club, among many other violent acts…

in October 1958, the company offered vinyl puppets… The offer on the [coffee] can said, "Hey Kids! I’m Wilkins — he’s Wontkins — you see us on TV!" Obviously, Wilkins Coffee and Henson knew that the Muppet characters had kid appeal, although this doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the use of violence and terror in the ads.

Coffee… now there’s something that makes me aggressive!

Via: BoingBoing

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  1. udx says:

    Normally I wouldn’t search for commercials involving muppets.  But if anything, thanks for the find.  This is something I wanna keep.

    What is a game?(throws wine glass on the floor and it breaks to pieces) A miserable little pile of secrets.

  2. Solufien says:

    (Ignore my last comment. Keyboard’s being a bit screwy. Anyway…)

    Wasn’t /co/ talking about this a couple of weeks ago? Shit it was brutal.

    "The system is shit, truth is all that matters." Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitian

  3. Solufien says:

    “The system is shit, truth is all that matters.” Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitian

  4. Adamas Draconis says:

    Just 10 years ago an hour long program had around 50 minutes of program and  maybe 10 minutes of comercials. Now it’s closer to 45/15, and thats not counting shows which are basicly 30 minute comercials.

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  5. Felgard says:

    damn comercials where short back then. today one comercial is about as long as this clip


    Antisthenes – Observe your enemies, for they first find out your faults.

  6. Wormdundee says:

    I agree with you heartily, but I’m somewhat bemused at the phrase ‘helicopter soccer moms’. What in god’s name does that mean?

    I’m guessing it has something to do with hovering over their kids? 

  7. Dragoon1376 says:

    Exactly.  Advertising practices have changed and will continue to change.

    Old coffee ads used to condone spousal abuse in a sense.  Most of them show a housewife either getting coffee thrown at her or the aftermath for buying a poor quality coffee.  And this was around the 1930s to 1940s iirc.

    Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergast is a good read if you’re interested in food history.

    First secure an independent income, then practice virtue. -Greek Proverb

  8. MaskedPixelante says:

    The 50s were a different time… where you could show massive amounts of violence in cartoons, and it was just fine. Then came the helicopter soccer moms, and they added mature audience disclaimers to classic Sesame Street.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  9. JustChris says:

    I blame this mostly on the expansion of communcation technology really, in its power to reach the pockets of every town possible. More areas to observe means more violence to obvesrve, and since we know news networks capitalize on the sensational, you know why it’s popular to talk about it.

    The amount of OBSERVABLE violence in the world distorts a lot of people’s guesses on how much actual violence the world has.

    It would be the same logic to say that our universe gave birth to a billion more galaxies in just 100 years, because we have better telescopes and other devices that allows us to look farther.


  10. DarkSaber says:

    These days it’s more acceptable to imply you either don’t care about your children or that they might die if you don’t buy their products.

    There’s an advert for washing machine tablets that compares not using their product to sending your child out on a bike ride with only half a helmet. WTF?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  11. chadachada321 says:

    ….Phew…I had to read it again just to make sure you weren’t being serious. I happen to like the old looney tunes, that was such a great show. I’m just sad that they don’t air it on cartoon network anymore =(

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  12. Ashkihyena says:

    This, though I’m usually more sluggish then violent in the morning if I haven’t had my coffee.

  13. Chaltab says:

    Don’t be ridiculous, everyone knows that all cartoons and video games are made for children.

  14. MrKlorox says:

    To show that violence in media that kids would be interested in does not cause them to imitate the acts. The world would be very different today if this was the case, as evidenced by these wonky old violent commercials.

  15. Cerabret100 says:

    Because ten years ago we had stuff like Tom and Jerry on (i watched one of the episodes a few weeks back) where shooting each other and other deadly acts were all in good cartoon violence, but now stuff like that in games is for some reason dispicable.

  16. MrKlorox says:

    Yeah, but that was because it was a direct parody of Masterpiece Theatre, whose host always had a pipe and smoking jacket.

  17. SimonBob says:

    Hahaha, I knew what you were talking about before I even clicked the link.  I’ve got some friends who are practically Muppet historians.  Did you know the pilot episode of The Muppet Show was subtitled "Sex And Violence" and featured a Seven Deadly Sins Pageant which had to be canceled because Sloth was late?

    The Mammon Philosophy

  18. Vake Xeacons says:

    That’s the good news: if it was made in an era that was acceptable, then it’s still acceptable today.

    I’m glad they haven’t censored Looney Toons or old Hannah-Barbera. I was watching Boomerang with my daughter the other day, and I hadn’t realized how inappropriate a lot of that stuff would be today.

  19. truthinessadvocate says:

    It’s also interesting to note that in the early days of the The Muppet Show the characters would smoke. Henson and company thought this was hysterical. Then, in a moment of revelation, Henson realized that kids would be watching and decided he didn’t want to negatively influence them, so the ciggies were excised. This indicates Henson believed, at least to some degree, that his shows could influence children. One has to wonder what he thought about those coffee ads in retrospect.

  20. Nocturne says:

    Good grief… the third set of videos for these has a death row/electric chair scene.

    Drink Wilkins coffee… or die!

  21. KayleL says:

    I remember there was some recent kids show that was coping a 50’s cartoon show for an episode. They had the cover up half of the show saying "That can’t be shown on TV today".

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