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Monday, 16 December 1996

Oozy Does It | Ooze News | December 1996

Ooze News - December 1996

Oozy Does It

Every year, the Cosway Company in Dominguez Hills, California, makes and packages as much as 500,000 gallons of Gak for Nickelodeon and Mattel. We went to the factory to find out just how they hack making all that Gak.


Gak is usually made in batches of 1,300 gallons, but a small sample batch of pink was mixed just for us.

Water, coloring, and powdered thickener are slowly mixed with a secret ingredient. (No one at Cosway or Mattel would tell us what the secret ingredient is, even though we are very good at keeping secrets.) The mixture is blended until it achieves just the right Gak texture and consistency. Then the Gak is poured into 55-gallon barrels, where it is kept until it is ready to be packaged.


The next day, a larger batch of Gak in the Dark was being packaged.

1. Twenty-pound blobs of Gak are placed into a funnel-shaped machine called a hopper.

2. Every three seconds, a four-ounce portion of Gak is pushed out the nozzle at the bottom of the hopper. It goes into a plastic "splat" container.

3. The splats are then weighed to make sure each one has the right amount of Gak inside.

4. The splats are then capped and wrapped in plastic.

5. The splats are then placed upside down in clear plastic cups that line slotted trays. One piece of pre-glued cardboard is placed behind each slot.

6. The trays slide through a machine called a blister carder, which uses heat and pressure to stick the clear plastic cup to the cardboard. The packages then slide from the trays, cool for 10 seconds, and go into shipping boxes.

Gak Faks
  • Gak is 78 percent water.
  • Gak contains guar gum, which is derived from guar seeds. Guar gum is also an ingredient in fat-free cupcakes and cookies.
  • Gak's secret ingredient is also used in cosmetics.
  • Nine million pounds of Gak have been produced since the first batch was made in 1991.

Top Toon Talent

We spoke to the very animated Craig Bartlett, creator of Hey Arnold!

Pulling strings: Craig Bartlett and Arnold (above).
Having a ball: An animator draws Arnold, his head, and its look-alike (left).

NICKELODEON MAGAZINE: Did you base Arnold on anyone you know?
Craig Bartlett: Yes. He's based on me, though I didn't grow up in a boardinghouse under an overpass with my grandparents, and I don't have a head shaped like a football. But Arnold is about how I felt as a kid.

NM: Why is Arnold's head shaped like a football?
CB: At first, Arnold was made of clay for short animated features. I melted clay in a pot and then poured it out on wax paper. When the clay cooled, I cut out a bunch of shapes, like cookies. The football shape was just one that I had cut to build him with, and it ended up being his head.

NM: Why did you pick a name like Helga for a character?
CB: It's because of the Seattle, Washington, neighborhood where I grew up. It was home to a lot of Scandinavians with names like Helga and Lars Larson.

NM: So Arnold's city is based on Seattle?
CB: Yeah. Arnold's neighborhood is meant to look like some of the neighborhoods I knew in Seattle. But it also has a little bit of Brooklyn, New York, in it.

NM: What were the easiest and hardest parts of growing up in a city?
CB: I liked that everything was right nearby. The hardest part, though, was that when I was little I didn't really have a sense of a larger world outside of the city. It's the same with the kids on Hey Arnold! Their whole world is just the few blocks between their school and their houses.

NM: If you could be one of the Hey Arnold! characters, who would you be?
CB: I'd like to be Grandpa. He's just a really fun character to draw and write dialogue for. He's also a good guy and a straight talker.

NM: Who do you think is cooler, Arnold or Arnold Schwarzenegger?
CB: Oooh. Tough question. Well, for now, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I'd like him to do a voice on Hey Arnold!

Trace elements: An animator draws Arnold in action (top).
The hard cel: A colorist paints Helga onto a cel, or plastic film (bottom). Her gloves keep the cel clean.

Little Big Talkers

by Lindsey von Busch

Adults provide the voices for most cartoon characters. But Hey Arnold! has real kids doing the talking. We asked a few of them to mouth off about their animated alter egos.

CHARACTER: Arnold, fourth grade
VOICE BY: Toran Caudell, ninth grade
HOW THEY'RE THE SAME:  "Arnold and I both have big imaginations, blond hair, and pet pigs."
HOW THEY'RE DIFFERENT:  "I'm very outgoing, while Arnold is quiet most of the time."
ODD JOBS: Guest appearances on Roseanne and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

CHARACTER: Helga, fourth grade
VOICE BY: Francesca Smith, seventh grade
HOW THEY'RE THE SAME:  "We're both artistic, intelligent, emotional, and dramatic."
HOW THEY'RE DIFFERENT:  "I'm very close to my family, but Helga doesn't like hers."
ODD JOB: Guest appearance on Blossom.

CHARACTER: Gerald, fourth grade
VOICE BY: Jamil Smith, ninth grade
HOW THEY'RE THE SAME:  "Like Gerald, I'm a loyal friend who's outgoing, creative, and soulful."
HOW THEY'RE DIFFERENT:  "My hair is only two inches tall, not twelve."
ODD JOB: Guest appearances on Sister, Sister.

Best Space Case Scenarios

Each kid on Space Cases has a special ability. Using the key to the left [below], figure out which character could help you solve each of the problems below. Then circle the correct letter (or letters). Answers on page 88.


A = HARLAN - Leader and superathlete

B = SUZEE - Mind reading

C = RADU - Superhearing and superstrength

D = ROSIE - Radiates heat

E = BOVA - Generates electricity

1. You're on a camping trip, and all the adults have disappeared. There's complete chaos. Who can take charge? A   B   C   D   E

2. Your father is on the phone with your teacher, talking about your math grade. You can hear your dad just fine, but which two Space Cases can help you find out what your teacher is saying? A   B   C   D   E

3. A big winter storm has knocked out the power in your house. Which two Space Cases could help you? A   B   C   D   E

4. Your brother says he hasn't been reading your diary. Who can tell you if he is lying? A   B   C   D   E

5. Your parents are down the hall, talking about the family's surprise vacation destination. Which two Space Cases could tell you where you're going? A   B   C   D   E

6. You overslept, and now your oatmeal is too cold to eat. Which Space Case can warm it up? A   B   C   D   E

7. Halfway through a long car trip, your Gameboy's batteries run out. Who can give your batteries a boost? A   B   C   D   E

8. Your street hockey ball has rolled under your neighbor's car and is out of reach. Who could move the car for you? A   B   C   D   E

9. You're outside and your hands are freezing because you forgot your mittens. Whose hand do you want to hold? A   B   C   D   E

10. At a gymnastics fundraiser, Kerri Strug hurts her ankle again. Who can take her place on the coed team? A   B   C   D   E

Space Cases airs Saturdays at 8:30 PM*.

Hey, Herb!

Where you ask Nickelodeon's president, Herb Scannell, anything you want.

Do you like to play in the snow?
Yes, I love snow. I'll never forget the snowstorm we had when I was about eight years old. After the storm, a snowplow left a pile of snow that was taller than a house. The other kids and I turned the heap into a snow fort and played in it for three weeks - until it melted.

Do you like ice-skating?
No, I can't skate. And I think that's one of the reasons I'm not a big hockey fan.

What's the best present you've ever received?
When I was 10, I got a five-speed Sting-Ray bicycle with U-shape handlebars and a yellow-and-silver-speckled banana seat for Christmas. It was like getting a car. I scored big that year.

If you have questions for Herb, send them to:

Hey, Herb!
1515 Broadway, 41st floor
New York, NY 10036

What's on Nick


The Rugrats save Grandpa Boris from the plans of his childhood rival Shlomo (also known as the "Meany" of Hanukkah) on the Rugrats Hanukkah special, which airs on Wednesday, December 4, at 8 PM*.


On The Secret World of Alex Mack, find out which is more important at Christmas - spirit or gifts - during an encore presentation of "The Gift" episode. The show will air on Thursday, December 12, at 8 PM*.

* Shows air one hour earlier in the central time zone. Shows subject to change. Check your local listings for details.

Bonus articles - Face To Face guess the actor challenge (see scan below) and BACKSTAGE BASH:

NICKELODEON MAGAZINE'S Michael Wickersheimer made some noise with stars backstage at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards.

Do you ever sing while you're driving?
All the time! I have the Grease CD in my car and I sing along with it over and over.

Kurt Loder OF MTV NEWS
What instruments do you play?
I play guitar and keyboards.

What is your favorite snack?

What did you eat for breakfast today?
A turkey burger. I ran around all morning and didn't get to eat until about noon.

Robin Goodridge and Gavin Rossdale OF BUSH
What do you think you'd be doing now if you weren't musicians?
Robin: We would be watching musicians.
Gavin: Or we'd be critics.

Additional source: Wikipedia.

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