I have two children, 7 and 4. They worship our flat screen. And why wouldn’t they? The screen takes up half the wall and the room focuses on it like it’s the statue of Christ. Most of their programming is mind-numbing. Dora and her confused monkey have to get somewhere before it’s too late, or Steve just can’t seem to find the last of Blue’s freakin’ clues (it’s under your freakin’ nose, Steve). Truly catatonic-inducing stuff. Thankfully, there is ONE show that is appropriate enough for younger kids (generally), visually engaging, and totally hysterical. What makes it even more compelling for me is that, more than any other children’s programming, it takes naming seriously.
Named for the main character (a boy, cat, rabbit, bear-like thing), the show is called Chowder, and everything in Chowder’s world is cleverly named, starting with the characters, all of whom are named for different foods. Chowder is a voracious chef apprentice to Mung Daal, one of Marzipan City’s finest chefs and a true ladies man (nice moustache, Mung!). Keeping Mung in line is his wife, Truffles, a diminutive and cranky creature and the manager of their catering business. Chowder’s best friend, Gazpacho, is a fruit vendor in the local market, and his girlfriend (okay, she’s NOT his girlfriend!) is Panini, as cute as any sharp-clawed cat, bunny, bear-like character could be. She, too, is studying to be a chef under the tutelage of Endive, Mung’s culinary rival in Marzipan City. Show creator, C.H. Greenblatt has been quoted as saying that he named Endive for that particular edible plant because it is both bitter and fancy (I guess the Belgian endive is considered fancy), which really does sum up the character quite well. The last main character is Schnitzel, a grumpy but very powerful rock monster working in Mung’s kitchen who’s only words are Rada Rada. According to Chowder, Schnitzel is grumpy because he always has to take a poo. Rada Rada!
In addition to the characters (and there are many more), every location, every food, every occasion, is given a unique and creative name. Here are just a few of my favorites:
SCarGo (it’s the name of Mung’s snail car, which is the way folks get around Marzipan City. By snail car.)
Sing Beans (beans that sing, of course)
Kimchi (Chowder’s pet. A living stink cloud that speaks by blowing raspberries that sound like farts)
Thrice Cream (Chowder’s favorite food)
Grubble Gum (Truffle’s favorite treat. Never swallow it! It can cause terrible diarrhea)
Flibber Flabber (a horrible tasting diet food that supposedly aids in weight loss, but it’s unsubstantiated)
Mood Fruit (a fruit necklace that changes color based on your mood)
Mush Puppies (watch it – they attack if overcooked!)
Powdered Flarts (heart-shaped powdered cookies)
Froggy Apple Crumple Thumpkin (made from a 12 legged cave frog. You have to thumb wrestle it to finish the dish. Hence, the Thumpkin)
Clot Dogs (like a hot dog, with equal heart-stopping power)
Fizzy River Fruit Juice (fruit flavored soda)
Mount Fondoom (a giant volcano with a large fondue cooking pot at its peak. Very ominous)
Knishmas (8 nights of Christmas?? I don’t know. It’s a gift-giving occassion)
If you have kids between 5 and 12, and even if you don’t, I highly recommend this show. And, if you’re interested in creative naming, I doubly recommend you check out this show. Here’s a short clip from a classic episode called Burple Nurples in which Chowder is given the opportunity to make a dish all by himself. Watch the clip or YOU WILL DIE (it’ll make sense after you watch the clip).
Names Grade: A