Chowder is an American animated television series created by C.H. Greenblatt for Cartoon Network. The series follows an aspiring young chef named Chowder and his day-to-day adventures as an apprentice in Mung Daal's catering company. Although he means well, Chowder often finds himself in predicaments due to his perpetual appetite and his nature as a scatterbrain. He is also pestered by Panini, the apprentice of Mung's rival Endive, who wants Chowder to be her "boyfriend", which he abhors. The series is animated with both traditional animation as well as short stop motion puppet sequences that are inter-cut into the episodes, and that run over the end credits.
Chowder premiered on November 2, 2007, and ran for three seasons with 49 total episodes. It garnered one Primetime Emmy Award win, six Annie Award nominations, and two additional Emmy Award nominations during its run. The series finale, "Chowder Grows Up", aired on August 7, 2010, and features Logan Grove as the voice of the Chowder.
Chowder (voiced by Nicky Jones): A 10-year-old chubby purple cat—bear—rabbit who serves as an apprentice under the chef Mung Daal, Chowder lives with Mung Daal and his wife, Truffles, in a room at the top of the catering business. Chowder wants to become a great chef, but he is very impulsive and scatterbrained and often gives in to his urges. He is always hungry and eats anything, even a customer's order. Chowder can also regurgitate objects, and he is used as a storage container by the other characters. According to Greenblatt, he is a composite of a cat, a bear and a rabbit, and his species was verified in at least one episode. C.H. Greenblatt voiced his adult self in the last episode.
Mung Daal (voiced by Dwight Schultz): The elderly chef who runs the catering company at which Chowder works. Although his exact age has not been stated, he has mentioned that he has cooked for at least 386 years, and he celebrated 450 years of marriage to Truffles (see below). He is a light blue-colored humanoid of indeterminate species. Mung is named after the Indian dishmungdaal; Greenblatt had originally planned to give Mung an Indian accent, but later decided against it.
Shnitzel (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson in "The Froggy Apple Crumple Thumpkin", and John DiMaggio afterward): A taupe rock monster and professional chef who works at Mung Daal's Catering Company. His vocabulary consists almost entirely of "Radda", although he sometimes says other simple words. He talks in the episode "The Trouble with Truffles" because he finally gets calm enough. Shnitzel is the "straight man" to the other more excitable characters and is frequently agitated. He gets stuck with menial labor or cleanup duty, as well as the heavy lifting because he is extremely strong. Although usually angered by Chowder's antics, Shnitzel really has a soft spot for Chowder, as he cries when it was thought that Chowder has vanished forever. Kevin Michael Richardson voiced Shnitzel for the debut episode "The Froggy Apple Crumple Thumpkin" and was replaced at the last moment by DiMaggio due to Richardson being busy with other projects at the time.
Truffles (voiced by Tara Strong): A mushroompixie/fairy and Mung Daal's wife who handles the business side of Mung's catering business. She is practical but has a foul temper and easily loses patience with her husband, his staff, and their customers. Greenblatt said that he based Truffles on his mother. Greenblatt said that he initially found difficulty in working on any story with Truffles since the character could be "so abrasive" that the Chowder staff had to be "a little more sensitive about finding her softer side." Greenblatt said that the staff eventually decided that "a little Truffles goes a long way." Therefore she would appear occasionally in Chowder in a manner similar to how Oscar the Grouch appears in Sesame Street.
Gazpacho (voiced by Dana Snyder): A woolly mammoth storekeeper who sells strange produce and ingredients at the farmer's market. He does his best to offer advice to Chowder when needed. He lives with his overbearing mother, who never appears on screen, but is present at the end of episode "Gazpacho!". In "The Spookiest House in Marzipan" it is hinted at that Gazpacho has no mother, and that he actually suffers with dissociative identity disorder, but creator Greenblatt says this was merely to "pay homage to Psycho". Gazpacho shows no interest in moving out and improving his own life. Gazpacho's worst enemies are ninjas. Greenblatt named him after the cold soup gazpacho; Greenblatt said that he did not know why, but the name suited the character immediately.
Panini (voiced by Liliana Mumy): A 10-year-old pink Cabbit who has a crush on Chowder and reminds him at every opportunity. Chowder does not return the feelings and responds with "I'm not your boyfriend!" whenever she greets him. Panini is an apprentice to Ms. Endive, and is also possessive of Chowder. Panini gets jealous when she sees Chowder with another girl. Her original character concept had her bully Chowder in a manner described by Greenblatt as similar to Angelica Pickles from Rugrats. Greenblatt removed the pointy ears since he felt this did not fit in with the rounded shapes in Chowder. Greenblatt did not like characters similar to Angelica and believed that he needed to make Panini "cuter and sweeter". Greenblatt said that the details of Panini formed when the creator decided that Panini had a crush on Chowder; since Chowder is not old enough to fall in love with females, according to Greenblatt this aspect would frustrate Chowder "in a more fun way". In the last episode, it is shown that Chowder finally returned Panini's feelings and they are married with many kids and was voiced by Grey DeLisle. Panini's name literally means "sandwiches" in Italian, while her former name, Borlotti, is a type of beans.
Ms. Endive (voiced by Mindy Sterling): A smart obese female chef who teaches cooking to Panini with strict discipline. She's also occasionally portrayed as the show's main antagonist or villain. She is usually depicted as gargantuan in size. This is shown in the episode "The Apprentice Games" where Mung Daal and Chowder enter the games by riding on Endive's posterior. She regularly berates Mung Daal, whom she considers a rival. In the episode "Chowder's Girlfriend", it is revealed she despises boys and boyfriends because her fiancé did not show up on their wedding day. Ms. Endive is first seen in the second episode with Panini, "Chowder's Girlfriend". The creator describes her as Martha Stewart with Oompa-Loompa colors. Greenblatt chose to name her after the endive since endive is bitter and Belgian endive is fancy; hence the character is bitter and fancy. Endive's character stayed constant throughout the initial development. The long nose, which changed from a rectangular shape to a triangle shape for the final version, represents how Endive looks down at other characters. It was revealed in later episodes that Ms. Endive is in love with Shnitzel. Greenblatt said that he felt that her evolution throughout the series was fun to observe, especially when William Reiss wrote plots involving Endive.
Kiwi (voiced by C.H. Greenblatt) is a photorealistic pink creature who always gives advice to Chowder and his friends. His name is only pronounced in the episode "Brain Grub", where it is known that after Chowder alters the animated universe, Kiwi is reduced to selling used cars.
Kimchi (voiced by C.H. Greenblatt): Chowder's pet, who lives in a cage next to his bed. Kimchi is a brown-colored stink cloud (due to the unpleasant odor of kimchi). He likes things with odors unpleasant for the other characters, and he "talks" by making flatulent sounds. Kimchi was first seen in the episode "The Froggy Apple Crumple Thumpkin". Kimchi is usually shown with a blank personality but in "Stinky Love" it is shown that he has an opinion.
Gorgonzola (voiced by Will Shadley): A young green rat apprentice candle holder with a surly attitude. He resents Chowder due to Chowder having a better job than him. He will occasionally use Chowder, and if forced, will partner with him in games. Since blue cheese was one of the few foods Greenblatt disliked, he decided to use the name "gorgonzola" for a character who did not get along with Chowder. Gorgonzola resembles a green opossum or a green rat. He wears tattered brown clothes and no shoes, and has a partially melted candle on his head (for traditional reasons). He is desperate to get cash, and will do almost anything to get it. Gorgonzola also loves to play Sniffleball, as seen in the episode Sniffleball. Despite his unpleasant attitude to Chowder, Chowder sees him as a close friend, which irritates Gorgonzola even more. Gorgonzola is an apprentice to Stilton, who is a candle holder, hence why both characters have burning candles on their heads.
Ceviche (voiced by Elan Garfias): A young yellow (and somewhat androgynous) goat apprentice to Paté and Panini's best friend, Ceviche was introduced in the episode "The Apprentice Games". He practices aerobic-style dancing and is very charitable and kind to others. Because of his admirable attitude and amazing talents (as well as good looks, as it was shown on one episode that he has a well-sculpted body) he is well-liked. He is good friends with Panini and will make unwanted advances upon her, which are either refused or unnoticed. Ceviche is also a close friend to Chowder. He has a crush on Panini. He speaks in a monotonous voice and serves as deadpan humor for the show.
Chestnut (originally voiced by Tone Lōc, then John DiMaggio): Like the food, Chestnut is small and tough. He is a tiny, blue horned devil-like creature with a deep, gravelly voice and, to many character's surprise, is physically very strong. Because of his size, he uses everyday objects as other things (e.g. using a briefcase for a hydrofoil, or a hat as a vacation home). He sings small songs to himself, usually consisting of his catchphrase of "Dinka loo dinka lee." He is teacher of the BLTs, a parody of the SATs. He always refers to himself in the third person when speaking.
Reuben (voiced by Paul Reubens): A pig who is a conman and steals from others. He was Mung's "Inspector" when he needed to renew his cooking license but he just used that to fail Mung and pass Endive. He later made the group, minus Truffles, use his boat for their fishing trip but just spent the trip annoying Mung and keeping the other passengers on board so he can get more money out of them. At the end of the episode, it turned out that the ship was stolen and Reuben abandoned ship when the real owners came and left the group to be arrested.
Mr. Fugu (voiced by Bob Joles): A floating balloon who is said to be Mung's most frequent customer. He is proven to be more greedy than Chowder and never shares any food with him. He is often seen with his valet, Foie Gras, a Maneki-neko (meows provided by George Takei) holding Mr. Fugu's string as he cannot control his flotation.
Sgt. Hoagie (voiced by Diedrich Bader): He is a dog who is a police officer in Marzipan City. In Hot Date he was going out on a date after several years and asked the other cops for advice.
A total of 49 episodes were aired in the series. Season 1, which consists of 20 episodes, started on November 2, 2007, with the series premiere, entitled "The Froggy Apple Crumble Thumpkin/Chowder's Girlfriend". Season 1 ended on July 24, 2008, with the special "The Apprentice Games". Season 2 also contains 20 episodes, debuting on October 1, 2008, with "The Arborians/The Garage Sale", and ending with "A Faire to Remember/Tofu-Town Showdown", broadcasting on September 29, 2009, and October 6, 2009, respectively. Season 3 consists of only 9 episodes, premiering October 12, 2009, with "The Blast Raz", and ending with the series finale, entitled "Chowder Grows Up", which aired on August 7, 2010.
The puppet versions of the characters Chowder (a Hand-Rod puppet) and Mung Daal
During his time working on Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants, Greenblatt had been sketching various characters for his own animation series concept. Greenblatt originally based the premise on the idea of the sorcerer's apprentice style of story, such as The Sword in the Stone. The plot devices were modified so that the story revolves around a master chef who teaches his young apprentice how to cook. Chowder himself was developed with no specific species in mind, but rather with the intentions of invoking the image of a child's soft squeeze toy. Some of the inspiration comes from Dr. Seuss, with other inspiration from Saturday morning cartoons.
Greenblatt pitched the concept to Cartoon Network, and two years later the series was approved with another year for production before the pilot episode aired. Greenblatt estimates he spent about seven years working on Chowder before the show made it to air in 2007.
Production and format
Episodes are produced in seasons which consist of twenty 24-minute episodes. Each episode is produced with a 30-second puppet sequence that is meant to run over the ending credits. Episodes can be purchased from the iTunes Store in the United States which are delivered with the sequences as are episodes which are available on Cartoon Network's VOD website also within the United States.
One of the unusual design features of the show is the patterns used on the clothing or players. The patterns are developed as a full-screen image and then sent to the production house, where the characters are modified to fill the patterns in over the character clothing. Using this technique, when a character moves, their patterns do not follow, but display as a "static" background. A similar technique was used in the Monkey Island video game series (particularly for the Stan), the Nickelodeon series The Off-Beats, and the Mr. Bean animated series.
The show is also known for the very wide variety of media used in various episodes. These include animation using watercolors and ink-and-paint in addition to the cartoon's classic pattern style. It also uses stop motion animation with real food, action figures and clay; live-action scenes with the voice actors of the show and puppets; both marionette and hand-controlled. This was also sometimes used in Courage the Cowardly Dog. It boasts one of the most diverse varieties of mediums used in any single series.
Chowder was cancelled by Cartoon Network in August 2010. C.H. Greenblatt noted this on his blog, saying: "I didn't really think there'd be this many upsides to having a show officially cancelled by a network, but I'm feeling happier than I've been in a long time. Since we've only got post-production, my schedule finally eases up. I haven't had a break like this in a long, long time... Chowder has opened up a lot of awesome possibilities for me, and creatively I'm feeling more inspired than ever." C.H. Greenblatt also noted that many of the staff signed on to a new project at Disney. This is a reference to the Disney Channel animated series Fish Hooks, which Greenblatt himself also works on as an episode director.
Some of the reviews were positive, two raising questions as to whether Chowder can entertain with its occasional bathroom style humor, or sometimes recycled material.
Barry Garron of The Hollywood Reporter thinks that the show will appeal to both children and adults alike, using exotic artwork, unusual settings, and a zany cast of characters. On Toon Zone, Ed Liu expands on the animation and crazy antics of the characters, pointing that the humor of the show is kid-friendly without being juvenile. Liu reminds his readers that Chowder is still in its early phases, and with just a little more time to develop, he feels that the show will be successful. Aaron H. Bynum on Animation Insider also mentions the animation, settings and crazy characters of the show, ending with the comment that Chowder is one of the biggest projects Cartoon Network has undertaken in recent times.
Includes "The Thrice Cream Man/The Flibber-Flabber Diet", "The Froggy Apple Crumple Thumpkin/Chowder's Girlfriend", "Mahjongg Night/Stinky Love", "Certifrycation Class/Sing Beans", and "Grubble Gum/The Cinnamini Monster"
Includes "The Wrong Address/The Wrong Customer", "The Burple Nurple Stand/Shnitzel Makes a Deposit", "Gazpacho Stands Up/A Taste of Marzipan", "The Puckerberry Overlords/The Elemelons", and "Sniffleball/Mung on the Rocks".