|Throwing in a little bit of everything, Vegetable Soup mixed equal parts culture, cartoons, live-action drama, and life lessons, cooking up a diverse, entertaining dish. Produced by the New York State Department of Education, the show ran simultaneously on both commercial and public television stations, a TV first.
The show’s format consisted of several segments, including the memorable Woody the Spoon cartoon. Bette Midler provided the voice of Woody, who taught kids recipes from around the globe. James Earl Jones voiced another cartoon character on the show, Long John Spoilsport, who taught kids how not to behave in the Adventures in Saniland segments. Long John’s polar opposite was Luther, who gave kids a friendlier role model. Long John also appeared in a segment called 'The Big Job Hunt'. This is a trivia game show that is hosted by Sue and faces two different schools up against each other, to win the ultimate prize, the MAX trophy. MAX is a giant computer that gives the categories for the questions and lets the answering party know if they are right or wrong.
Also on the show were short films, skits, “man on the street” interviews, the show-opening Outerscope spaceship segements, brief biographies of minority professionals, and Real People, a running drama with an ethnically diverse cast.
Vegetable Soup ran every day on PBS and on Saturday mornings on NBC. There was Vegetable Soup I which was the first series and ran for 39 episodes and then two years later, Vegetable Soup II, which premiered in 1977, making a total of 78 episodes. NBC ran both series. It was also available in 15 minute format for school use and school TV broadcast. It may never have gained the success of Sesame Street, but while it lasted, Vegetable Soup showed kids the world was more than white bread, apple pie, and meat and potatoes.
ABSTRACT: The goal of Vegetable Soup, a television series for children, is to help counter the negative, destructive effects of racial prejudice and racial isolation and to reinforce and dramatize the positive, life enhancing value
of human diversity in entertaining and affective
presentations that children can understand and relate to. This teaching guide provides teachers with a description of the contents of various segments of the show and indicates the relationship of these segments to the overall theme of the show. Each segment is composed of three parts. The purpose of each segment is given to state the intent as perceived by the series designers and television writers, the synopsis is a brief overview of each segment containing details of the major events of each episode within the segment and the names of the main characters, and the ideas for discussion following each segment contains questions
designed with the hope of promoting classroom discussion and thinking.
Among the segments presented are the following:
outerscope, real people, make a new friend, people's jobs, heroes, the superlative horse, story telling time, children's poetry and art, holidays, children's questions and activities. Vegetable Soup uses an interdisciplinary
approach to entertain and educate elementary age children in the value of human diversity. The show offers teachers a unique opportunity to further develop children's skills in the areas of language arts, social studies, and career education. (Author/AM)