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The Big Ape part four- The 1960s

14 Jul

July 14, 2011

from July 6, 2007

1963 was the year that The Big Ape’s Banana Chew went on the market. This was “the gum that makes you go Ape!” Bradford B. Jacobs had acquired a Korean bamboo factory in some shady dealing that he paid the government a lot of money not to look into. He converted it into a gum factory and, despite the gum tasting not a bit like banana and quite a bit like bamboo, quickly expanded into two, then three then twelve factories.

During the Korean War Bradford made a few investments in Korea, betting on a quick victory.

Historian Arnold C. Didikoff:

           It didn’t come out until the 1990s, but it turned out that Mr. Jacobs had invested quite heavily in the Korean War effort. The North Korean effort, that is. Despite being a self-proclaimed patriot and after claiming for years that he was a direct descendant of Martha Washington, Mr. Jacobs pumped a lot of money into the North Korean economy.

 (Perhaps this explains the present he gave me on my first birthday: a Kim Jong Il teddy bear.)

           But it must be stressed that Mr. Jacobs was not anti-American, he was pro-making money wherever he thought he could.

 Big Ape Banana Chew was followed by many more candy products by Bradco Confectionary Industries, as Bradford’s candy-making company was dubbed. Chocolate Big Ape paws,  Mint Ape Bits, and his biggest seller, Furry Cocoanut Big Ape Balls all debuted in short order.

Bradford, by 1965 wanted to move into gourmet food. Thus, Big Ape bouillabaisse, Big Ape truffles, Big Ape steak tartar, and Big Ape fugu all were featured on the menu of Bradford’s Big Ape Steak House, a chain of 198 restaurants all across the eastern seaboard.

What follows is a partial list of  Big Ape products, services, and locations owned or produced by Bradford B. Jacobs in 1968:

  • Big Ape service stations, featuring Bradco Fuel
  • Big Ape Margarita Mix
  • Big Ape crossword puzzle books
  • Big Ape colostomy bags
  • Big Ape dishwashing liquid
  • Big Ape Light Menthol Smokes (non-toxic)
  • Big Ape Light Menthol Smokes (toxic)
  • Mrs. Big Ape Tupperware

1968 also saw the first significant addition to the Big Ape world in decades: Li’l Big Ape. MGM released Son of The Big Ape Part Two, a sequel to Son of The Big Ape.

This does not feature the same son. Tragically, The Big Ape’s first born died in 1956 while rescuing Napoleon from a volcano in a time-travel epic. This Ape-son was much cuter, much smaller, and much easier to market. Dubbed The Li’l Big Ape, this new simian smash would rival his father in the sheer amount of products produced bearing his image. This new character was aimed squarely at the toddler set, and no baby would be seen in public without The Li’l Big Ape on the back of his diaper.

In the 1960s, The Big Ape would change with the times, sometimes radically, sometimes from film to film.

1961- Big Apes on the Moon pre-dated the moon landing by several years. In this film, The Big Ape was the first Mexican astronaut sent to the moon.

1962- The Big Ape Meets El Presidente pitted The Big Ape against Castro.

1962- The Big Ape Defeats the Imperialists pitted a Cuban Big Ape against American forces in Havana.

1969- The Big Ape Steps on Hippies is self-explanatory.

1969 was also the year that Alfred Hitchcock (yes, that Hitchcock) remade his classic film Vertigo as Big Ape Vertigo, a faithful remake featuring Cary Grant as The Big Ape.

Shortly before his death, Alfred Hitchcock mused on his contribution to The Big Ape legacy:

          Well, you see, everyone just had to make one. No director worth his salt could lay a claim to greatness without at least one Big Ape epic to his name. The question, really, has been why I choose to remake Vertigo. Simply put, I had always viewed that as a flawed film. Despite a cast of talented stars, and a script worthy of them, I had always harbored a secret desire to remake it with The Big Ape. On retrospect, I should simply have made it with The Ape the first time.

Famous directors all made Big Ape films:

  • John Ford- Big Ape High Noon
  • Sergio Leone- The Good, The Bad, and The Big Ape
  • Inishiro Honda- The Big Ape Vs. Godzilla
  • Cecil B. DeMille- The Ten Big Ape Commandments
  • Elia Kazan- Cat On a Hot Tin Big Ape Roof
  • Mel Brooks- The Big Ape Producers

There were novels, stage plays, television dramas, and products available everywhere featuring The Big Ape. Bradford B. Jacobs continued to make fortunes unimaginable. He bought houses in all major cities, tried to buy major cities, and became a star himself with his weekly commentary “These Things I Believe” every Wednesday on the CBS Evening News.

Bradford had a minor health scare when an actor in a Big Ape suit attempted to climb a flagpole for Bradford’s birthday. The actor’s Big Ape paws didn’t grip the pole very well and he fell on Bradford, breaking the entrepreneur’s left arm. Major networks broke into their regular programming to cover this story. It was after this event that Big Ape first-aid kits hit the market.

Obviously, everything Bradford B. Jacobs touched turned to gold. Furry Big Ape gold.


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