Open your children’s entertainment slow cooker and throw in some Jack’s Big Music Show, mix it with your favorite Food Network Chef and throw in a sprinkle of Pee Wee’s Playhouse and you have Clare Crespo’s The Yummyfun Kooking Series.
The Yummyfun Kooking Series is part of Clare Crespo’s cooking-themed Yummyfun brand for kids. For those who have yet to sample this delicious project, Clare has put out three themed cooking DVDs for kids (“Spring Has Sprung,” “Monkeying Around in the Kitchen,” and “Spookyfun”) as well as a monthly recipe club for families called The Yummyfun Kooking Club. The brand is also supported by a robust website located at Yummyfun.com.
Clare’s cooking skills have already inspired two best-selling cookbook/artbook mashups (The Secret Life of Food, Hey There, Cupcake! ), regular appearances on morning shows like The Today Show, NPR visits and even offbeat jobs like creating a food portrait of artist Beck. As for her experience working with kids and kids’ entertainment, Clare taught themed cooking classes to kids at The Blue School in NYC and The New School of Cooking in Los Angeles. She has also art directed a segment for Yo Gabba Gabba and designed pirate food for SpongeBob SquarePants. Meanwhile, she has kept busy with her “adult” cooking projects as well as her work as an artist.
As for the show itself, Clare’s love for food and art is clearly on display in this quality independent production that brings together her endearing personality, kid-friendly recipes, puppets and a very cool house band. We watched the “Monkeying Around in the Kitchen” episode and Maia was glued to the screen as “Yummyclare” taught us how to make Monkey Pops (chocolate covered bananas), Banana Dogs (bananas on hot dog buns) and Hawaiian Shirt Punch (fruit punch with pretty fruit slices). Clare’s persona is sweet, pleasant and subtly quirky. Drop-ins from scientist Safari Geoff, a musical visit from The Tastebuds, a few puppets and a unique kitchen set will capture the interest of kids not likely to sit still for a cooking-only show. While each episode turns up a bit short at only 17-minutes, I do hope this project gets attention from a TV network or distributor so we can start to see more episodes.
The Yummyfun Kooking Series is available online (www.yummyfun.com and www.amazon.com) and families can also join The Yummyfun Kooking Club at the official site.
In the meantime, check out some sample clips below!
It is in our nature to want our kids to like the same things we do, whether it be a sport, album, videogame, film or TV show. Since I am less of a sports guy, and more of a pop culture geek, I tend to force my entertainment choices on Maia. More accurately said, place them in front of her and see how she reacts. While some haven’t exactly stuck (sorry Fraggles), a few have carried over quite well. One which she took to early on and continues to love is “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”
Pee-wee waves hello from the house
Yeah, yeah, I know. The real-life Pee-wee had some scandalous arrest, but that is irrelevant when it comes to the show. I think this show translates so well to her, and other modern viewers, because of its detail, talent, artistry, and originality. And, I am not the first to compare it to a certain current-day preschool series, which, like ‘Pee-wee’ did in its time, captures the attention of parents, hipsters, and children alike.
For those who don’t know, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” was a Saturday morning series starring Paul Reubens. Based off a not-so-kid-friendly stage show, Pee-wee was a child in an adult body who lived in a parent-free fantasy house filled with talking furniture, amazing gadgets (even for today), quirky friends and out-of-this world creatures and animals.
As a creator and producer of this show, Reubens certainly knew how to bring talent and an artistic vision to the series. His live-action friends include ex-Groundling members and up-and-coming talent like Phil Hartman, Lawrence Fishburne, and S. Epatha Merkerson. Pee-wee Herman’s house was also filled with stylized, animated vintage toys and pop-art of the time. The “Penny” claymation segments were put together by “Wallace & Gromit” creators Peter Lord and Nick Park. The soundtrack included compositions from Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo) and Todd Rundgren as well as a title song from Cyndi Lauper.
In an age of Pixar films filled with jokes for parents and kids, Pee-wee’s humor stays relevant today and will still get the whole fam giggling. The fast-paced segments are sure to hold the attention of today’s audience, too. Pee-wee also mixes media, something any Sesame or “Yo Gabba Gabba” viewer is used to, putting in pieces of classic animation and the aforementioned claymation segments. And what kid doesn’t love puppetry? Pee-wee’s housemates include beloved puppet characters like Chairy the Chair, Pterry the pterodactyl, and the trouble-making Randy.
Some of that Pee-wee art deco
Yes, there are some moments that don’t carry over so well. For example, frequent Playhouse visitor Miss Yvonne shows off lots of cleavage and swoons over shirtless men like the Tito the hotpants-wearing poolboy. And I would have preferred it if Pee-wee hadn’t shown Maia how to make underwear into a turban. Or invited the giant alien eyeball into his Playhouse. But all of this can be skipped thanks to modern DVD technology.
“Pee-wee’s Playhouse” is sold as two separate box sets containing all seasons. Also available is a separate Christmas special. The Christmas special is a camp classic that has to be seen to be believed, with guests like Grace Jones, Dinah Shore , Joan Rivers, Charo, Oprah Winfrey, Little Richard and k.d. lang.
As for Pee-wee’s mega-successful spinoff effort, Tim Burton’s “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” we have deemed this a bit scary for a child who is still getting comfortable with “The Little Mermaid.” In the meantime, Maia has started to collect vintage merchandise from friends including View Master slides, pull-string dolls, movie tie-in books and a bobble-head doll.
So, while I am happy to celebrate all the interesting, new preschool entertainment out there, it is fun to find some retro entertainment that Maia enjoys with her Dad. And for those who think I am being too self-serving, to quote Pee-wee, “I know you are, but what am I?”