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Who Were The California Raisins And Why Were They A Sweeping National Phenomenon For Years?

24 Feb 2020 14.7k views11 items

Raisins might just be one of the hardest foods to market. Despite their relatively low cost to consumers, long shelf life, and high nutritional value, California raisins are a less-than-visually appealing food - even to the most avid fruit lovers. However, in 1986, Will Vinton and his advertising team at Foote, Cone & Belding launched a particularly innovative campaign that revolutionized the California raisin industry for the better part of a decade: the California Raisins. 

A fictional singing group made up of a quartet of claymation raisins who sang popular hit songs, the California Raisins - and Michael Jackson - appeared in television commercials in an effort to create an allure around the rather unremarkable dried fruit. The singing raisins were a hit, and demand for the dried, wrinkly-but-sweet grapes rose to heights unseen since WWII. The rise in popularity of the California Raisins benefited the raisin industry in California, but it also led to the faux band becoming a cultural sensation and releasing albums, merchandise, and even California Raisin Christmas specials. 

However, as with many bands throughout history, The California Raisins' rise to fame was inevitably followed by a fall. By the early '90s, the marketing ploy turned band had dwindled to the ranks of other one-hit wonders, until they gradually fell from public favor - along with the raisin market as a whole.

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