But the scene is not all happiness. A wandering hobo comes wandering
down the train tracks (which are also made of peppermint sticks) and
comes across a pretty miss cookie crying to herself because she doesn't
have anything to wear to the carnival The hobo decides to become Fairy
Godmother to our Cinderella cookie; a cupcake sleeve becomes a petticoat,
cream from a few eclairs becomes a beautiful gown, and a few properly
thrown candy hearts complete the wardrobe.
Making a quick switch with the tail end of the parade, the hobo just
manages to get our beauty into the parade. The judges go nuts when they
see her and know that they've found their queen, destroying their dais
in the process of getting down to meet her But a king! The queen, they
decide, must have a king. So, where before the female population of
Cookietown was on parade, now it's time for the males to show their
We're introduced to a variety of sweet-stuffs: The Dandy Candy Kids,
The Old-Fashioned Cookies ("like Mom used to make"), the Angel-Food
Cakes (maybe a little too sweet), The Devil's Food Cakes, the
Upside Down Cakes, and finally The Rum Cookies (who were cut out at
one time because they were "always stewed!")
The three judges, in a serious show of bias, announce that no suitable
king could be found, so one of them will have to take the crown.
All during this pageant, however, the hobo has been trying to elude
the guards who are trying to evict him from the show. He finally takes
cover underneath the queens carpet, coming up on the other side to land
at her feet. The queen, of course, recognizes her as her savior and
announces that he shall be the king.
The short concludes with a spectacular light show courtesy of a impressively
bright one-candlepower and an assortment of multicolored lollipop gels.
The hobo, as a reward for what he has brought about, receives a kiss
from his queen, but not before hiding behind a lollipop which, in a
libidinous heat, melts with their passion.
The Cookie Carnival was not considered a great success by many
of the animators that worked on it. The old bugaboo of character had
struck again, and some didn't feel that the cookies came over as very
convincing. The parade itself, some thought, took up too much of the
short giving the main characters not enough screen time to establish
themselves. Bob Wickersham thought that "the cookies just didn't have
what it takes in themselves." Wilfred Jackson wrote "The parade and
general whys and wherefore of the Cookie Carnival were confusing to
the audience." Mique Nelson summed it up writing "The general effect
on the observer of a parade of unestablished character is somewhat meaningless
because of the fact that the observer's mind has never been allowed
to stop for at least an instant and become acquainted with a definite
personality or a single thought."
But the short did have one benefit to the Disney organization. This
was the first short which Myron "Grim" Natwick worked on for Disney.
Natwick got his start working for the Fleischer Brothers and was instrumental
in developing Betty Boop. And in a reverse of the usual process, he
had been stolen away from Ub Iwerks new studio where he had been working
on Flip the Frog. It was discovered that he had a great skill in animating
female forms, and many thought that in The Cookie Carnival
achieved Disney's first fully feminine character. As a result, Natwick
was given almost solely feminine characters to animate, culminating
in his work animating the heroine in Disney's first feature film "Snow
White and the Seven Dwarves."
The basic idea is that we are back in a land of cookies, similar to the cookie men from Hot Chocolate Soldiers. Back then we debated whether they were pastries or not, so I’ll just say that it’s a land full of cookie people. A parade is ongoing, featuring the candidates for Queen. There are various entrants, including Miss Candy Cane, Miss Licorice and Miss Banana Cake.
Off behind the parade, though, one young woman is crying, because she cannot enter the contest. She has nothing to wear and no float to pull her. A hobo cookie man shows up and plays Fairy Godmother, though, in a small twist on the Cinderella story. This is a really fun part of the short, as the hobo uses icing, sprinkles, and éclairs to make the young cookie girl into a real princess.
Of course, she wins the contest, completing the fairy tale. But what is interesting about this short is that this moment comes only halfway through the short. The rest of the short focuses on the selection of a king for the queen. It’s this part that is most interesting to me.
The elders of the cookie town wheel up a carousel, and as the carousel rotates, a curtain opens, revealing the king candidates inside. We get old fashioned cookies, angel food cakes, devil’s food cakes and even rum cakes. What’s interesting to me is the whole carousel idea. It brings to mind two later Disney innovations.
As Walt was getting ready to build Disneylandia, a traveling show of miniatures, he used a stage similar to the framing of this carousel to reveal his dancing figure. Later, this rotating carousel idea would be used in the Carousel of Progress. It’s so interesting to see the same thing here, decades earlier.
Finally, of course, the hobo gets chosen as the king, and there’s some cute bits around the two trying to sneak a kiss. That’s what makes this short, though, is the interaction between the hobo (voiced by Pinto Colvig) and his queen. They are loveable characters who you want to see succeed. That’s the heart of any good story, but especially a Disney story.
There's a great atmosphere and song opening this short which really showcases how far the Disney artists and animators have come. There's some really sophisticated designs, drawing and movements in this cartoon, with far less of those slightly awkward not-quite-right moments of animation we've seen before. I have heard that Walt wasn't wasn't 100% satisfied with this cartoon (don't have the time right now to look up where), if so then it shows once again the kind of quality he was aiming for because this is a very enjoyable short to me.
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