June 27, 2013 posted by

ESHBAUGH II: “Wonder Bakers at the World’s Fair”


Since we’re talking about a ‘fair’ in this week’s edition, I think it’s only ‘fair’ to take a moment to talk about the hidden archives of the collector world. We owe much to the film collectors- and specifically in the case of the things that show up here, the cartoon collectors. They often are the ones who have the things that no one else seemed to save- and they also know what they have. That isn’t to slight any of the excellent archives around the world-they are amazing in their own right- but on this same note, often their collections are the result of receiving things from the collectors.

After last week’s Wizard of Oz and Teapot Town entries I’ve had Ted Eshbaugh’s other films on my mind. One of these that turned up was a Kodachrome color workprint of sorts in 16mm, with the worst optical soundtrack reproduction you’ve ever heard (as we transferred this the telecine guy at first swore there was no sound,period on this print, but I knew better…). There was a similar print of the Wizard of Oz that also had bad sound that showed up years earlier, and I have to wonder if they both came from the same source at some point.

These are clearly the animated segments produced for Wonder Bakers at the World’s Fair a live action and animation promotional film produced for the Wonder Bread brand by Continental Bakeries, and shown at the 1939 World’s Fair. From viewing this footage, Eshbaugh clearly continued to live in the mid-30’s animation style as other studios evolved into the late 30’s. This and ‘Tea Pot Town’ look like they could have been produced around the time of Pastry Town Wedding (1934), though both made much later.

There was quite a bit of animation produced to be shown exclusively at the World’s Fair in 1939 (as well as live action films). Many of these films have vanished entirely, like so many other promotional films. Around this time Eshbaugh also produced one and two minute theatrical ads for various products, some in a simple style as this, others more complicated.


I don’t believe another copy of any footage from this film has surfaced. If memory serves I lightened the contrast and upped the level of the sound as well as holding a little longer on the tags so they could be read, but it’s otherwise just as it is on the print.

This first appeared on Cultoons, Volume 1 from Thunderbean, distributed by Mackinac Media. You can find it super super cheap on Amazon or at It’s a disc full of oddities like this, including Les Elton’s Monkey Doodle and The Hobo Hero.

Now, maybe it’s just me and collectors, but there is often nothing as thrilling to learn about one of the oddities of animation history showing up. We all owe a debt of gratitude for this week’s curiosity to the ‘essential’ Mark Kausler. His preservation efforts -and allowing access to transfer on films like this and so many others – allows us to still be able to see these less-than- marketable forgotten films, and often saves them from being lost entirely. Thank
you Mr. Kausler!

UPDATE: Reader E.O. Costello sent in this scan of The Yo-Ho Song (click thumbnails below to enlarge), which is the song that appears in the Ted Eshbaugh film for the Continental Baking Company’s World’s Fair exhibition, posted above.

Costello says, “I surmise that this was composed for a radio show circa 1929-1930 sponsored by Continental Baking, based on the 1929 copyright date on page 2, and the fact that the quartet on the cover is posing next to a vintage NBC microphone. I do not, however, have any details on what (if any) radio show used the music, other than the fact that the lyrics refer to a “happy good night,” suggesting a prime-time show.”

yoho-1 yoho-2 yoho-3 yoho-4


  • Imagine, if you will, an alternate universe where Les Elton’s cartoons were hits and he parlayed his style into that universe’s Walt Disney Co..

    What would the theme parks look like?

  • I found a list of films shown at the 1939 World’s Fairs in Business screen magazine; I don’t know if if the list was complete, but interesting this film was not mentioned. There was an Eshbaugh made film mentioned, but it was a production for Planters Peanuts. It’s very very well possible this film was shown and Business Screen forgot to mention it, but it still has me wonder if the film was ever completed to begin with; perhaps Continental pulled the plug on it mid-way through? :-/

  • As of this comment, “Cultoons Vol. 1” is under $5 at Amazon, and qualifies for free Super Saver or Prime shipping. As a fan completely unaffiliated with Thunderbean, I have to say if you don’t own this DVD, get it now! Les Elton’s “Monkey Doodle” is worth $5 by itself.

  • One of my favorites of the many, many curios you have dug up! Always wondered why the sugar sacks get a free pass after the other ingredients undergo inspection…

  • Feelin’ kinda slo-baked, myself…

  • What?! No Twinkees??

  • Mark Kausler is an incredible resource for not only the lost films, but for animator information from scene to scene in many of our favorite cartoons. Yes, I’m glad he’s around, and I can’t wait to see this new blu-ray project with interesting films like these, just to see what the set will cover. Love the CULTTOONS disk.

  • Mark Kausler has dug up an interesting animated gem! Well done,Mark!

  • If it’s of any interest to anyone, I actually have the sheet music for the song that’s sung at the beginning of the cartoon; it was composed for a radio show that Continental Bakeries sponsored on NBC around 1930.

    • Consider me interested! 😉

  • The “We Are The Wonder Bakers” jingle also opened “Tin Man” Jack Haley’s 1939 CBS Radio Network program, THE WONDER SHOW, which originated from the moderne KNX studios on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Haley was broadcasting this weekly program at around the same time he was shooting THE WIZARD OF OZ for MGM in Culver City.
    The voices of the “bakers” on the radio show sound much like they do on the soundtrack of Eshbaugh’s 1939 New York World’s Fair film; they may even be the same exact quartet.
    Also interesting is that THE WONDER SHOW was the very first time Haley’s radio co-stars Lucille Ball and Gale Gordon ever worked together. 25 years later Gordon would have regular roles on both of Lucy’s color CBS-TV series.

    – William Carroll
    Denham Springs, Louisiana

  • My name is Dave McCarthy . When my late father was alive I was given a picture of him and his father ( my grandfather ) at the 1929 Worlds Fair, and they were standing iin the Wonderbread publicity booth. These photos were taken & sent by u. S mail back to the recipient , my grandfather & father took the train to Chicago from Manchester CT.

    If anyone would like a copy sent to them in a text message, feel free to text your request to 860-299-3665 as my e-mail adress has been having issues lately. Thanks, Dave

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