The Munchers – A Claymation Sugar Nightmare


The American Dental Association take a bad trip into bad teeth.

Educational films tend to be either tedious preaching or outrageous delirium, and thankfully, 1973 film The Munchers: A Fable – produced by the American Dental Association – fits into the latter category. A warning against eating too many sugary snacks and a push towards eating healthily – and so very much matching the current nannying concerns of the UK government and its exanding sugar tax – this crude claymation film features anthropomorphised teeth succumbing to the seductive advances of Mean Jack Sweet, who plies them with treats and then sets about them with diggers and drills. Only Mr Filling can save them with sage advice about what they should be eating.

Notable for exposing the made-up nature of ‘five a day’ requirements (here it’s four portions of fruit and veg, and variously specified portions of carbs, meat and dairy products), Art Pierson’s film features animation by Gary Baker and Annalena Keating and music by Renaissance Productions, which ranges from on-the-nose preaching to trippily nightmarish stuff involving the splendidly creepy Mean Jack Sweet, as charismatically sinister a character as you could ever hope for.

Invariably, Jack does a much better job of pushing the pleasures of sugary treats than Mr Filling does of suggesting that fruit and veg are tastier alternatives, even if he is a someehat demonic figure. I suspect that any kids not terrified by him would have decided that cavities were a price worth paying for his cakes and candies. Perhaps if they really wanted to scare kids straight, Jack should’ve been replaced by a dentist – a genuine figure of fear for children and adults alike. Still, this is well worth ten minutes of your time.