Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on January 30, 2004
A respected supplier of goods which have a marked tendency to backfire in a variety of ways, leading ultimately and inevitably to disaster. Contrary to what one might have reason to think, Acme was not invented by Chuck Jones. Amce does, however, remain inextricably linked with Jones; who used the brand name as a recurring gag over a period of years.
The first use of the Acme name in a Warner-released cartoon is in Porky’s Poppa (Clampett, 1938), in which the elder Pig orders a mechanical cow from the esteemed outfit, with the soon-to-be traditional chaos ensuing. Jones would not use Acme until The Good Egg (1939), in which he successfully employs an Acme toaster to hatch chicks. Incidentally, Acme is not an acronym. It derives from the Greek “akme” meaning “point” or “pinnacle”.
Among the more noteworthy uses of Acme, outside of Jones’ cartoons, is the Freleng cartoon Bugs and Thugs (1954), in which Rocky and Mugsy drive a 1952 Acme with California license plates. In the same cartoon, one can see an ad to change to Acme oil in a gas station. In The Up-Standing Sitter (McKimson, 1947), Daffy works for the Acme Baby Sitting Agency, whose motto is “Our sitters don’t lay down on the job”. The spider in Meatless Flyday (Freleng, 1944) uses Acme steel shotgun pellets coated in I.G. Farben Kandy Kolor to trap the fly.
Acme was widely used as a trademark in the Sears-Roebuck mail order catalogs for a variety of goods. The author owns a 1907 catalog listing Acme anvils for sale. Currently, “Acme” is the name of an animation industry standard for registration equipment.