An overweight Howard says today's show is about vices and notes that toons, like people, struggle with temptations with a flashback showing Howard over indulging at a sandwich table resulting in mass weight gain.
Howard says temptations, ranging from food to alcohol and cigarettes, have been offered to animated characters for a very long time and these flawed characters make for good stories. Food is one such temptation for characters such as Scooby Doo and Shaggy. Underdog got a boost from an energy vitamin pill concealed in a ring he wore constantly. Howard says toons of the times often set bad examples for younger audiences such as drink exessively or smoking in early cartoons. Howard says many of these cartoons geared originally for adults have had these parts edited out in what critics refer to as willful censorship.
Howard lights up a cigarette and says that at one time, smoking a cigarette was considered good for you. Characters such as Betty Boop and others would smoke in cartoons geared for adults and tobacco companies even hired the cartoon characters to pitch their products. By the time these cartoons landed on Saturday morning television, cigarette smoking was banned from television and cigarette smoking was edited from thousands of cartoons.
Howard says he resents the idea that cartoon characters can't hold their liquor but passes out drunk after a single drink moments later. Howard relates that in the early days, cartoon characters depicting drinking heavily was the surest way of getting a laugh. The Hays code of 1934 that was introduced didn't diminish the use of alcohol as long as it didn't hint at sexuality. The most common characters used in animation for over drinking were mice and often depicted in hilarious falling down drunk ways.
Legendary voice actor Mel Blanc gave voice to a large number of animated characters and legend has it that Mel was allergic to carrots and had to spit them after every take when doing the voice of Bugs Bunny. Noel Blanc, Mel's son, says the legend is incorrect and the reason Mel had to spit the carrot out was because he couldn't do the voice otherwise.
Howard says another gag in cartoons often used is a star trying to eat a co-star during a cartoon with Wile E. Coyote's pursuit of the Roadrunner and the cat Sylvester wanting to eat Tweety Bird prime examples.
Howard states that he is a little uncomfortable with the amount of cartoons that have gambling in them as they have to be role models. Howard says this even as he plays cards with a trio of babies. Howard relates that gambling moving to Las Vegas in the fifties legitimized it in many eyes and led it to appear in cartoons such as Fred Flinstone's "unique" reaction to the chance to make a wager. Other cartoons portrayed characters gambling for women as well as money.
In the early Popeye cartoons, the supporting character J. Wellington Wimpy, better known as Wimpy, was well known for his love of eating hamburgers and his catch phrase "I'll have a hamburger for which I'll pay you Thursday" that he used when in a diner. Wimpy's hamburger needs solidified him as one of animation's best known gluttons.
Popeye was a sailor who loved spinach as a way to make him stronger. The character of Popeye rose to fame just as spinach was touted as a food children should eat thought many adults disliked its taste. Some critics think the spinach was a euphemism for an outside substance to give incredible strength but nevertheless Popeye has eaten a lot of spinach over the years.
Howard states that in the cartoon world, mice are lovable scamps who one would try to trap with a big hunk of wedge shaped orange cheese. In reality, however, mice hate cheese and really prefer peanut butter or chocolate as trap bait.
Howard states that animation's ultimate glutton is the character known as the Tasmanian Devil. Based on the Australian animal of the same name, the Tasmanian Devil first appeared on the big screen in 1954 and his brain has two commands: eat and move. The Devil's undoing is his romantic side which Bugs Bunny has taken advantage of to escape his clutches and avoid being the Tasmanian Devil's latest meal.