The California Raisins

The California Raisins

This website leans heavily in the favour of the 90’s when it comes to nostalgia, but the 80’s were just as, if not more vital to pop culture. If you don’t believe me, just ask anyone over 40 and watch them turn into a little kid again. And then, after that, ask them how they feel about Michael Bay’s version of Transformers. 

The California Raisins screams 80's to me, with a little left over for the 90's. I remember collecting these figures and begging my parents for a bucket of KFC so that we could get a new figure and then also have fried chicken and neon green coleslaw for dinner. The Raisins were originally created in 1986 for a Sun-Maid commercial. Raisins needed a bit of a push to compete with candy or any kind of food that wasn't dehydrated, so the idea was conceived to go off the wall and have dancing raisins sing "I Heard It Through The Grape Vine". To everyone's surprise (especially the raisin people) it was a smash success. Everyone was eating raisins, even Ray Charles and Michael Jackson. Raisins were popular again (again?), and they started showing up all over pop culture. In movies, television and especially music. The raisin purists made sure to remind everyone that they ate raisins before it was cool.

The Raisins released four studio albums between 1987 and 1988 and even landed on the Billboard Hot 100 with I Heard It Through The Grapevine. To put things in perspective, there were actual Motown groups who weren't claymation that never made four albums, let alone charted. They were officially named the mascot of Raisin Bran cereal, were featured in a primetime special entitled "Meet the Raisins!", and were featured on every piece of merchandise you could imagine. They were the Beatles of dried fruit. The campaign eventually failed because the production of the advertising cost double what the raisin growers were making in return. They were still selling raisins, after all, and like almost every Motown band that came before them, they eventually went broke.

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