You Can’t Do That on Television. Double Dare. Ren and Stimpy. Rugrats. Kids who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s were lucky enough to have the ultimate cable TV network created just for them: Nickelodeon. Usually anti-authoritarian, always funny, and tons of fun, Nick’s golden years featured a slew of shows, personalities, and moments that are ingrained in the memories of millions, from Budnick on Salute Your Shorts to the song “Killer Tofu” performed by the fictional band The Beets on Doug. Mathew Klickstein’s new oral history Slimed! tracks down the likes ofMelissa Joan Hart and Keenan Thompson, who talk about everything from crazy game-show parents to the network’s diversity issues. Click through for some of the book’s craziest revelations.
1. The green slime on You Can’t Do That on Television was made out of Cream of Wheat, green food coloring, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, and water. The shampoo was added to make cleanup easier.
2. Lawyers representing the movie Ghostbusters sent a letter to the network claiming that it had stolen the idea for the slime, and demanding that Nickelodeon should cease using it immediately. Nick responded that Ghostbusters came out in 1984, and the network had been dumping the green stuff on kids since 1979.
3. Marc Summers, host of Double Dare, one of the messiest shows in TV history, has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
4. A woman once tried to sue Nickelodeon, claiming she couldn’t have sex because Marc Summers threw a pie at her face on Double Dare. The network gave her $25,000 to “go away,” according to Summers.
5. The Rugrats episode “Naked Tommy” was influenced by Maurice Sendak’s book In the Night Kitchen.
6. The Rugrats animators were sort of creepy. “I was invited into the men’s rooms to see the S&M drawings of Didi inside all the stalls. They had her decked out in leather, with whips and chains: the whole dominatrix regalia,” recalls Melanie Chartoff, the voice of Didi on Rugrats.
7. The Anti-Defamation League complained that Grandpa Boris from Rugrats was “a caricature that Hitler had designed to create animosity toward Jews.”
8. But there was nothing creepy about Sam entering Clarissa’s room via ladder. Clarissa Explains it All creator Mitchell Kriegman says it was “a way to show that they had this real friendship that wasn’t about anything sexual.” He admit it worked at first, “right up until she was sixteen.”
9. “Nickelodeon likes young people who don’t have much experience, because they’re cheap,” says artist and puppeteer Tim Lagasse. Melissa Joan Hart was making around $150 an episode by the third season of Clarissa Explains It All, and the kids on You Can’t Do That On Television made “probably $260 a week.”
10. Alanis Morissette made her first recordings with the help of an audio guy from You Can’t do That on Television.
11. Little Pete probably knows how to slice lox like a boss: “I worked at a bagel store while working on All That,” Danny Tamberelli recalls.
12. Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi was kicked off the show because the network thought the episode “Man’s Best Friend” was too violent. Kricfalusi decided to make bootleg copies of the episode so people could see it if they wanted to.
13. Not surprisingly, Double Dare’s Robin Russo admits that the show was “huge with the frat and sorority groups.”
14. An episode of Salute Your Shorts cost around $180,000 to produce. Courtney Conte, the show’s producer, said, “That’s what I used to spend on craft service for Roseanne.”
15. Emmy Award-winning Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant started out designing costumes for The Adventures of Pete & Pete.