"We started out to answer the question, `What would happen if Monty Python took over Sunday school?" said Vischer, one of the creators of "VeggieTales" and the voice of Bob the Tomato as well as several other characters.
"Computer animation back then couldn't handle legs, arms, hair or clothes, so we had to come up with characters who were naked, bald and limbless," Vischer said. "Since we were going to be targeting Christian bookstores, I originally made a candy bar with big goofy eyes. But my wife said moms weren't going to like it if their kids suddenly fell in love with a bunch of candy bars."
Vischer and his co-creator, Mike Nawrocki (the voice of Larry the Cucumber) have since produced 15 videos featuring the Veggie characters, all following a simple formula-wild and wacky, entertaining stories that teach values from the Bible.
"We got a letter from one elderly gentleman yelling, `How dare you portray Daniel as a cucumber!'" Vischer said. "Some people do not opt into what we're doing. Some folks want to have their biblical stories with bathrobes and sandals. And that's OK."
Vischer said he's received e-mails from church singles groups that hold "VeggieTales" viewing parties for adults only, and also heard about weekly Veggie parties in dorms at Michigan State University and Texas A&M. Larry the Cucumber has also been turning up on dancers' T-shirts at Chicago-area nightclubs.
"Christianity has become so segmented, and each little subgroup has its own jargon," Vischer said. "Everybody is standing around throwing rocks at each other, and we've forgotten how much common ground everybody has. The core message of `VeggieTales' is there is a God, he made us special and he loves us. ... If you're trying to raise your kids with biblical values-thankfulness, kindness, forgiveness-and if you're OK with the basic Christian tenets of belief in God and prayer, then `VeggieTales' is for you."