Those born anytime after roughly 1985 are probably very familiar with a certain yellow sea sponge character who lives in a pineapple under the sea. We are of course referring to the Nickelodeon character known as SpongeBob. From the main character SpongeBob to the beloved friends Patrick Star, Squidward, Mr Krab, Sandy Cheeks, and Plankton, SpongeBob remains on the longest running Nickelodeon show race.
SpongeBob first graced television screens on May 1st, 1999 and was a near-instant hit. In fact, the show was so popular that the network continued to produce new episodes of it all the way until 2015. It is still very easy to find reruns of the show on Nickelodeon and via other means even to this day. There are also different streaming services that have made the show easily available to a generation of people who simply don't want to go without it.
Many people who are now in their late twenties and early thirties still turn on the show as a means of nostalgia and comfort. Thus, we should take some time to recognize just how much this show means to many people. Also, it is also great to learn some interesting and mind-blowing facts about the show as well. Equipped with these facts, you can impress your friends and other fans of the show easily.
The Creators of the Show Liked to Include Subtle Adult Humor
There are numerous examples of adult humor being slipped into episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants. The point of doing this was to provide a few jokes that adults watching the show with their children could enjoy. The jokes are intentionally meant to be subtle enough that they will simply go right over the heads of child viewers, but obvious enough for the adults to pick up on what is going on. The creative minds at Nickelodeon knew what they were doing when they worked diligently to throw those jokes in.
One example from BuzzFeed is as follows:
That time SpongeBob gave Patrick a cake that literally said "Sorry About the Scabies."
This term is obscure enough that children didn't really notice it, but it was funny enough that adults caught on to it. That's just one example though. There is another subtle one hiding in the titles of the episodes of the show itself. The 20th episode of the 4th season is titled "The best day ever". This is a sly reference to the marijuana holiday of April 20th (4/20).
The Creator of the Show was a Marine Biologist
The concept of SpongeBob SquarePants starts to make a bit more sense when you realize that its creator used to be a marine biologist. His name was Stephen Hillenburg, and he was said to be fascinated with ocean life from a very early age. He would go on to teach marine biology at the Orange County Marine Institute and write an informational picture book for children about marine life.
In 1989, the not-yet creator Stephen Hillenburg decided to enroll at the California Institute of the Arts and learn as much as he could about animation. He decided that he wanted to pursue a career in animation and was offered a job at Nickelodeon working on their show "Rocko's Modern Life". He had such great success with that show that he began to dream of converting the picture book that he had written about marine life into something bigger on the network. This is when he started to focus on the concept of creating a television show of his own. Thus, the early outlines for what would become SpongeBob SquarePants started to take hold.
Sadly, Hillenburg passed away in 2018 at the age of 57 from ALS. However, his contributions to animation and to the Nickelodeon network will not soon be forgotten.
SpongeBob Has Won Employee of the Month 374 Times in a Row
One of the earliest references in the show is SpongeBob telling his pet snail Gary that he has won the employee of the month award at the Krusty Krab a total of 374 times in a row. This means when you do the math on this, SpongeBob has been at the Krusty Krab for more than 31 years as a Krabby Patty fry cook. There are other references in the show to SpongeBob's birthday being on July 14th, 1986 (as this is shown on his driver's license). Thus, even to this day, he will just be about to turn 36 years old (as of 2022). This means that he has worked at the Krusty Krab since he was just 5 years old, if not earlier. Then again, he is a sea sponge, and this is just a children's show! Nonetheless, Tom Kenny gave us a terrific experience playing this classic character, even though he may have been a fry cook at 5 years old. .
Bikini Bottom is Based on Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands
This one will blow your mind (pardon the pun!), but Bikini Bottom is based on an atoll in the Marshall Islands known as Bikini Atoll. This atoll is an area where the United States conducted a number of nuclear bomb tests in the 1940s and 1950s, and there are numerous references to this fact in the show:
As an inspiration from Bikini Atoll, Bikini Bottom was chosen as the home for SpongeBob and friends. The U.S. used Bikini Atoll as a nuclear test site from 1946 to 1957, which is why you’ll find references to the destruction sprinkled throughout the show. Two specific places you can find references to this in the show are the Toxic Waste Monthly magazine and the island in the introduction.
This is an interesting fact because Children wouldn't notice this fact, and it has gone right over the heads of many adults as well, but it was a subtle nod to the history of the Bikini Atoll area. It is something that is a sort of dark humor when you think about it, but that is exactly what shows like this are so good at doing. They can slip in subtle references under the radar without a problem.
The Name of a New Fungus Discovered in 2011 was Named After SpongeBob Squarepants
Researchers at San Francisco State University uncovered a new type of fungus in 2011 that they would eventually name after the famous main character himself, SpongeBob SquarePants. Their discovery is named Spongiforma squarepantsii after SpongeBob because the fungus does somewhat look like SquarePants, and because they are clearly fans of the show.
These researchers go into the forest all the time to find new species of fungus and mushrooms and to investigate the species that are already known to exist. Thus, it was a delight for them to find something as interesting looking at this one, and they were more than happy to give it a name that could pay tribute to a show that so many people are fans of to begin with.
The Seven Deadly Sins are Represented through Characters
Another interesting fact you probably didn't know about? Each of the main characters on SpongeBob represents one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The breakdown is like this:
- Sloth: Patrick Star
- Envy: Plankton
- Lust: SpongeBob SquarePants
- Greed: Mr. Krabs
- Gluttony: Gary
- Wrath: Squidward
- Pride: Sandy Cheeks
They all have specific characteristics that contribute to the fact that they match up to a particular one of the deadly sins. It is interesting that the show worked so hard to incorporate the seven deadly sins into the show in a symbolic way like this. Fans work hard to try to find every scrap of evidence that they can regarding how the seven deadly sins line up in the show. They look for every example that they can. Some are quite obvious such as Mr. Krabs’ constant obsession with money, but there are others that are a little more of a challenge to pick up on such as Plankton's envy. The next time you turn on an episode, but sure to look for references to these characteristics.
These interesting facts really go to show how clever SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg and the team were. From creating Plankton, the owner of the Chum Bucket, trying to steal the Krabby Patty formula and having a computer as a wife, Karen Plankton to adding in a squirrel from Texas living in a dome. The occasional appearances of King Neptune and Barnacle Boy and Mermaid Man also added to the fun. All the best SpongeBob characters and events make this show iconic.
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BBC News. 2022. SpongeBob lends name to new mushroom species. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-13874049> [Accessed 1 July 2022].
Wisti, E., 2022. All The Characters In SpongeBob Represent One Of The Seven Deadly Sins. [online] Ranker. Available at: <https://www.ranker.com/list/spongebob-characters-seven-sins/erin-wisti> [Accessed 1 July 2022].