In 1984 the California Dancing Raisin was introduced by the California Raisin Industry marketing staff to increase awareness and demand for California raisins.
The cost to develop the first animated and tested 30-second commercial was $300,000. It used singer and musician Buddy Miles as the vocalist for the soundtrack “Heard it Through the Grapevine” which was originally recorded by Marvin Gaye.
The groovy, sunglass-wearing Raisins were clay-animation created by Will Vinton Studios.
The Raisins starred in an Emmy-nominated 1989 TV special, Meet the Raisins, and had their own Saturday-morning cartoon series on CBS from 1989 – 1990.
Celebrity Raisins were later introduced with stars such as Ray Charles and Michael Jackson. Jackson’s spot was debuted in 5,700 movie theaters and featured him transforming into a California Dancing Raisin.
The Raisins became celebrities overnight when their first commercial, “Late Show”, debuted in 1986 sending them to the top of Adweek’s top ten list.
In 1986, “Lunch Box” won the Clio Award for best animation. “Late Show” received the Lion D’Argent Award at the Cannes International Film Festival. “Raisin Ray” garnered the Gold Award, Best Animated TV Commercial at the Houston International Film Festival and “Michael Raisin” won a Gold Medal at the International Film & TV Festival of New York.
Three California Dancing Raisins were officially named. The winning entries were Ben Indasun, Justin X. Grape and Tiny Goodbite. The contest generated over 310,000 entries.
Demand for memorabilia began within a year after the start of the California Dancing Raisin advertising campaign and peaked during 1988 and 1989. During that time, memorabilia of every type and style using the Dancing Raisins was licensed.
The original California Dancing Raisins were retired in 1994.
In February 2000, the California Raisin Marketing Board introduced its new fun-loving, health-conscious California Dancing Raisin Character at media events in New York and Los Angeles. The character was received with an overwhelmingly positive response and fond memories.
Since 2000, the California Dancing Raisins have appeared with Olympic gymnasts at elementary schools across the country, assisted the Fresno Grizzlies Baseball team with special appearances and traveled nationally to cities from Los Angeles to Washington DC to promote raisins as a healthful ingredient.
In 2001, the California Dancing Raisin rocked its way into national school Foodservice with healthful single serve snack-packs.
The California Raisins have danced for Presidents, and with Mayors and Governors. They’ve even pumped up Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In 2000, the California Raisin Board helped position raisins as a versatile and flavorful ingredient in cooking with the “Look Who’s Cooking with California Raisins” chef advertising campaign.
The most recent advertising campaign to launch in 2004 has the California Raisins spreading the word about the effectiveness of California Raisins in sustaining a healthy lifestyle with the “Look Who’s Training with California Raisins” athlete advertising campaign.
The word raisin comes from the Latin racemes, which means a “cluster of grapes or berries.”
History books note that raisins were sun dried from grapes as long ago as 1490 BC.
The Greeks and Romans decorated places of worship with raisins and handed them out to winners in sporting contests. And, Roman physicians prescribed raisins to cure everything from mushroom poisoning to old age.
Raisins are great tasting – naturally sweet, tangy, savory, and flavorful.
Raisins are easy to store; shelf-stable, require no refrigeration and are available all year.
Raisins do not bruise or spoil like other fruits.
Raisins are all-natural and contain no chemicals or additives.
Raisins are versatile – great in baked goods, sauces, garnishes, breakfast, candies, desserts, salads, side dishes, entrees, appetizers, and snacks.