The Throwback: Still waiting for the 'Sweet Pickles' bus?
August 4th, 2011
02:31 PM ET

The Throwback: Still waiting for the 'Sweet Pickles' bus?

Remember the "Sweet Pickles" bus commercial?

In a fit of '80s TV nostalgia, I recently had the commercial's song stuck in my head ("Smart moms know... how kids' minds grow... upon 'Sweet Pickles'").

"Sweet Pickles" was a subscription-based series of children's books and learning activities. Created by Richard Hefter, Jaquelyn Reinach and Ruth Lerner in 1977, "Sweet Pickles" spanned 40 books and was geared toward children ages 2-6.

According to, the series sold over 50 million copies. The books focused on the 26 personified residents of the fictional town of Sweet Pickles (e.g. Accusing Alligator, Jealous Jackal, Goof-off Goose). The characters would each get into a "pickle" based on their exaggerated humanistic traits.

Trinity U

In the commercial, the green "Sweet Pickles" bus is seen driving down the residential street of a leafy town. Goof-off Goose exits the bus and hand-delivers a box to a little boy.

As a preschooler in the early '80s, I thought when the commercial voiceover actor said, "We'll send the 'Sweet Pickles' bus to your door," he meant I'd soon peek out the window and see the "Sweet Pickles" bus at my curb. Not so. If you look closely at the commercial, you'll see that the "bus" that came to "your door" was actually a bus-shaped box of sweet (pickles) loot that came through the regular mail.

A Google search revealed some hilarious and touching findings that prove I'm certainly not the only one overcome with a bout of "Sweet Pickles" déjà vu from time to time.  [Note: Grammar and spelling errors remain untouched]:

"back then they didnt have the '18 or older to order' Rule so My Sister when she was little she called with our cousin kevin because they thought the bus and the animals would come and play with them it turns out it just came through the mail so our grandma had to pay for them and they got in big our other cousin keith junior burned them in a fire and said kevin started the fire.a few weeks ago my sister found the sweet picle cards at a garage sale and kept them to give to kevin."

- YouTube comment

"I also remember the imfamous bus from the 1980s that would pull up to the house and costumed characters waved from inside. I remember my mom telling my younger sister 'they don't really do that if you order it!'"

- Message board comment

"Now, obviously the bus never actually came to your house, but try telling that to a four year old who just lost a turtle because you've been feeding it iceberg lettuce for three months. she told me the turtle left to go see his mother, and i looked all over the yard for it heartbroken that it didn't love me anymore, i'm sure. so i was duped on the Sweet Pickles bus too. the books would come in the mail. she used to take them out of the box while i was taking a bath, or nap, or playing in the backyard. then out of nowhere she'd tell me that i missed the bus, that it came and somehow there wasn't enough time to get me because the stork had to go to other children's houses too. there was always a message for me from the Iguana. i really wanted to meet the iguana. i'd make her read his book Me Too, Iguana over and over. i used to pack it into my Strawberry Shortcake bag to take to the sitters with me every day. i'm not sure when it finally occurred to me that the Pickle bus didn't really exist, or that my turtle died of malnutrition. but i'm traumatized, really. and i think i'd still like to meet that Iguana."

- Blog post

The rights to "Sweet Pickles" were recently acquired by Bento Box Entertainment - the team behind FOX's animated series "Bob's Burgers." According to Variety, Bento is looking to produce "Sweet Pickles" TV adaptations, a digital re-launch of the books, and merchandise.

What about you? Were you duped by that commercial? If not, what ad campaigns took you for a fool as a child?

All deceptive advertising aside, were you a "Sweet Pickles" subscriber? If so, what do you remember most about "Sweet Pickles?"

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Filed under: Books • The Throwback

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Noj..unless directed viewed as ignorable..thanks

    i love this show too

    May 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jennifer koehne

    t think they need to bring all of the sweet pickles activity set and complete book sets back. it ways great for kids. hours of entertaiment for young children and they didnt really know they was learning. before you knew it they was on the next reading level of school and other things. PLEASE BRING IT BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cheinroth

    How funny! I was just telling my husband how I so wanted that sweet pickles bus to come to my house! I totally fell for it! What great memories! I never got to order sweet pickles.

    August 5, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. Iguana preschool craft

    For your iguana to be able to thrive, you must supply your dog the best diet plan. There are numerous fantastic fruit and vegetables, fruits and also bakery for you to supply the iguana. Yet be careful, while ...Iguana

    January 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Michelle

    YES! So funny this article was published just recently. This morning a stack of magazines were delivered to my office, and something about the smell of the glossy pages reminded me specifically of rifling through my plastic box of Sweet Pickles games 20+ years ago! And I, too, was totally duped by the commercial. I remember staring out the window for weeks expecting the mailman to be replaced by the Sweet Pickles bus. I don't know that I actually played the games/activities, but it was a lot of fun just looking through the collection. I think we threw the bus out some years ago - shame!

    August 26, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sams Mom

    I still have all of the books my parents ordered from that collection. It's not a full collection, like other commenters, my family could only afford so many. I love this series to this day. Sadly, my 9yr old was never interested in them but I'm hoping my grand nephew is when he gets old enough. LOVE U SWEET PICKLES

    August 5, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. FifSixties Child

    I never heard of Sweet Pickles but thats because im too old. Growing up in 50s-60s for me it was Little Golden Books & Childcraft enxyclopedias. But there was a book delivery service I think was sponsored by the Weekly Reader. I stiil have 'Dinosaurs' from it & fond memories of 'Taro & the Tofu' & others. Amazing how long early impressions persist.....sort of like in that poem "Purity when I was young". And it just shows how crucial children's formative years are....and just how important things like "Sweet Pickles" are.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cicely

    GREAT post! I thought I was the only one in the world that remembered that commercial! LOL

    August 5, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. gil talbot

    Yeah My parents kept all mine. Now my 4 year old reads them.

    August 5, 2011 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Peace

    @ Shlomo remembers, Highlights mag's are still around. I have them (High 5 mag's, too) sent to my grandkids! Glad some things stick around!

    August 5, 2011 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. Shlomo remembers

    Yes!!! After watching the video, I TOTALLY remember seeing it!!! I feel like I know the commercial like it's a part of me! So weird!

    August 5, 2011 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Shlomo remembers

    OMG! I was born in 1975 and I remember the Sweet Pickles books!!! I had forgotten all about them! Wow! I think I used to read them in a magazine called "Highlights for Kids".

    August 5, 2011 at 6:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. michele

    I remember those books!! my sister had them first and gave them to me. now here i am wishing i still had them cause in a few weeks my son will be born and i would love to read them to him. they were so great. not like the stuff they have for children thses days. its all garbage

    August 5, 2011 at 4:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. momof2

    I was duped by the Snicker's commercial. I would put peanuts in my hand, close my fist, and then would be terribly disappointed when there wasn't a Snickers in my hand when I opened it.

    August 5, 2011 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joy

    I bought these books when my children were little, saved them, and then read them to my grandchildren 25 years later. I don't remember the bus, the commercial, or the song, but I do remember they were shipped two at a time. I had 24 of them and finally had to write several times before I got the last two!

    August 5, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  16. Roll Tide

    Not only do I remember, but my 4 year old found my wife's old collection of Sweet Pickles books and now SHE loves reading them. I forgot how fun they were!

    August 4, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  17. John

    R.U. Kidding, are you kidding? It's a book series, not a program. And there were no songs. Did you even read the article? Or do you just have such an empty life you make negative comments on news items. If this article is so beneath you, why did you click on it in the first place? Idiot.

    August 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  18. R.U. Kidding

    What an empty life this broad must have. A throw back to yet another mediocre children's program. The program was awful. The songs were awful. Stories like this are pitiful. Lady, you stink!

    August 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • R.U. Kidding has an empty life

      You actually took the time to accuse someone of having an empty life? How sad. Imagine how empty YOUR life is.

      August 4, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  19. pickle sweet always

    Wow, bring me alots of memory. Where have u going sweet 80's. Bring back my childhood back.

    August 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  20. levelhead

    My god. I'd forgotten about all this until right now...I had a drawer full of Sweet Pickles paraphernalia as a kid...seem to remember having a shirt with the logo on it...

    August 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Evel Knievel

    I'd give that lady in the commercial some of my sweet pickle.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Vegas

    I don't remember the commercial, but I was addicted to those books! I was devastated when my dad gave them away without asking me first.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Kat(UK)

    Yes bring them back i treasured these delightful books as a child growing up in the 1980's. i loved these tales so much id love to read these to my own children!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Emily

    I had Sweet Pickles books! Did they have little 45 records, too? I seem to remember listening to the music as well. Loved them all!!!!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  25. redridinghood70

    I LOVE those damn books!! Nasty Nightengale was my fave!! So cute and such good tales to learn from! Bring em back!!

    August 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  26. CHASE


    August 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  27. matt man

    I am still waiting for that darn bus

    August 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Roland

    I was duped as well. The commercial that got me the worst, though, and taught me a very tough lesson on not believing what I see on TV was those Laser Tag spots with the arena and all the vehicles. Before I learned how to read the disclaimer about those things not being included, I thought Laser Tag was the coolest toy ever. Not that it mattered anyway, since my mother has always been vehemently opposed to toy guns...

    August 4, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  29. TheWordMaster

    I get the feeling this has nothing to do with the Magic School Bus....

    August 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  30. mk

    I loved the books and now my daughter reads them, I kept them all these years!

    August 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Duke Fairy

      Do those books have illustrations of the all the different types of buttPickles?

      August 26, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  31. brathead

    I had some of the stuff. My parents only paid for it for so long. I used to live the sweet pickles. I still remember the song too!

    August 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Duck Butter

    I'm waiting for the beef bus

    August 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  33. tracie

    Tasted like sunflower seeds.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Shan

    My younger brother was the family recipient of the Sweet Pickles "bus." And I must say at 6 I really did expect to see the bus load of characters pull up in front of the house, sort of like the Disney Calvacade.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Simon and Buttfunkel

      Hi Kids, Ive got a sweet pants pickle for each and every one of you.

      August 26, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |

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