Jim Henson's Early Commercials Rock
He made his mark with funny—and violent—ads
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2011 1:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – For those whose view of Muppets creator Jim Henson is one of "mild nostalgia," Network Awesome has a must-see compilation of his innovative—and surprisingly violent—commercials and shorts from the 1950s and '60s. Prominent are Wilkins Coffee ads with characters Wilkin and Wontkin. In most of them, Wontkin meets his demise at the hands of Wilkin after he admits he doesn't drink the stuff. (Click the Network Awesome link to see the compilation; see the video in the gallery for a smaller sample of Wilkins ads.)

These Itchy and Scratchy precursors led "to two decades of commercial advertising for everything from Wilson’s Meat to Pak-Nit fabrics," writes Paige Brocious. "Now, in most cases this career choice might seem like a sell-out move. But for Henson it kick-started his prolific career and gave birth to several puppet proto-types that would appear in his later works." An IBM sales video from the 1960s introduced Rowlf the Dog, his first nationally recognized character, adds Brocious. Boing Boing has previously featured the Wilkins commercials.