Saturday Morning Cartoon Nostalgia

I want Saturday morning cartoons to come back! I know it may sound childish coming from a 32-year-old, but I feel like my nieces have been robbed. Robbed of a childhood of being entertained by a whole morning of cartoons like The SmurfsGarfield and FriendsThe Flintstones, or Looney Tunes — all while eating a big bowl of sugary cereal with a cartoon character on the box.

Part of a balanced breakfast

My favorite cereal was Froot Loops. My dentist hated me for eating foods like that, but it was an easy breakfast for a 9-year-old kid to make without parental supervision. The other option was, of course, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. There was enough sugar left over after the cereal was gone for you to make a gallon of southern iced tea.

Maybe that was the reason I was so amped by the time Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was on. My brother and I would be hopping off the furniture with silverware like we were one of the turtles, but with sugar in our system instead of pizza. Just the excitement of watching the turtles kicking some turtle shell while yelling “Cowabunga dude!” during each episode was the greatest thing in the world. Once we would polish off a box a cereal we would beg my parents for more cereal, and of course they would try to tell us to eat the colorless dull corn flakes that no one really touched. (Except my father, who would pour sugar over it to make his own Frosted Flakes.)

Yeah, my nieces won’t get that joy. With the new food pyramid, high obesity rates and other health scares for children today, they’re most likely to watch cartoons eating healthy foods and vegetables. Maybe you could have done that with Captain Planet back in my younger days, but while watching other morning cartoons you had to have sugar-saturated cereal… and maybe pancakes if you were lucky.

My parents could get away with buying delicious sugary cereals—which we begged them to get—with two gallons of milk for $20. Now everything is whole grain, gluten free, soy free, and more expensive. That’s why parents work more instead of sleeping in on Saturday mornings, because they have to buy the Kashi brand foods and other expensive Whole Foods crap! I’ve seen my nieces practically smack away knock-off brands and unhealthy foods from different family members.

After these messages, we’ll be right back

Speaking of money, can you imagine how good the return of Saturday morning cartoons would be to the economy? I mean, the commercials were huge. Advertising toys, water guns, games, movie trailers, etc. Seeing that stuff on television made me want to beg my parents for ALL of it. They were by no means rich, but they did manage to get the majority of what we asked for, most of which didn’t entertain us for long. They were just items we wanted because they were advertised during the commercial breaks of our favorite shows.

My nieces are still exposed to commercial advertisements, but with the lack of commercials in streaming services the magnitude at which they ask for stuff is not even half what we did at their age. Can you imagine how the toy/game industry would surge if there were Saturday morning cartoons on again? My nieces would beg me for stuff, and I would most likely buy it since I’m like putty in their hands.

What about the benefits of being a parent while Saturday morning cartoons are on? You can basically just sleep in until noon or 1 p.m. (hopefully you don’t have a hangover from the company happy hour) and still take your time getting ready for the day. All a kid has to do is press the on button to the television.

With Netflix and Hulu, the parents have to wake up with the kids and set up the device to stream the cartoons. In many cases parents also have to lock their devices to ensure their children don’t buy $5,000 worth of toys online. (My nieces have bought items online without their parents knowing.) When kids only have to turn on the TV, then you as the parent don’t have to worry about your credit card being maxed out! All you have to do is prepare to support the economy by buying whatever cheap toys your kids see on television.

To be continued…

I remember that feeling of anticipation when an episode of TMNT or DuckTales ended with “To be continued…” Sure, you were disappointed that you have to wait until next Saturday to find out what happened, but at least you had something to look forward to while enduring the long week of school, chores, and being harassed by your family.

My nieces now have Netflix. They just plug in and watch a full season of a cartoon. What fun is that? Sure, you don’t have to wait to see the next episode, but that kind of instant gratification gives you less to think about—or talk about. Seriously, look at the social aspect of it. Can you remember going to school Monday morning and having an exciting conversation about what happened in the different cartoons you watched on Saturday? You might predict or wager your lunch cookie on what would happen in the next episode. (Yes, I lost a lot of cookies, LOL.) Those times are gone now. Now my nieces can just watch all the episodes in one sitting, no fun!

These breaks also allowed more time for companies to advertise more products, especially toys and games. My mom told me there is a difference between raising one of my nieces now and raising her own children when it came to buying toys. She said: “Back when you guys were little, every time there would be a toy, game, or food that would be promoted in a commercial you guys would bug the hell out your father and I. All my grandchildren just get a snack and let Netflix play until we turn it off. I still get bugged about buying stuff, just not as frequent as when you guys where little.”

I guess she was right. My parents bought a lot of the action figures, games, and other toys we wanted, and with every new episode of a cartoon there were new action figures advertised. My sister says that her kids don’t bother asking for toys or foods as much unless they are in a store or they see that one of the other kids in their class has something they want.

So I ask: Scooby Dooby Doo where are you? Will you ever return with your fellow Saturday morning cartoon counterparts or are we doomed to watch you only via stream? I guess we just have to wait and see. (Will I even be able to watch Saturday morning cartoons if they come back? I have to pay bills and go to the expensive brunches, so Saturday mornings may never be the same for me.) I beg all the television stations to think about how much Saturday morning cartoons would be great for this generation and our economy. In the infamous words of Porky Pig: “Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th… That’s all, folks!”

Felipe Patterson

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