Old Chester, PA: Ranger Joe TV Show

History | Recollections | Biography of Jesse Rogers, "Ranger Joe"

Ranger Joe Breakfast Cereal Company


History: Thanks to Tom Brennan, tbrennan@darientel.net, (writer, director and producer) for the following first-hand account of the history of the Ranger Joe TV Show:

"I am 80 years old, retired, and live in Vermont. After WW II, jobs were
scarce for those of us returning from the war. I was fortunate in obtaining a job with the Curtis Publishing Co. on Independence Sq. in Philadelphia. TV was just starting (all the good jobs were in radio) and I was anxious to supplement my salary and did free lance writing in addition to my work at Curtis. I was approached by a Philadelphia advertising agency (Lamb & Keen on Walnut St.) to help create a program for the new medium of television. The purpose of the program was to advertise the breakfast cereal of one of their clients. The cereal was to be called "Ranger Joe".

"Here is what I know of the background of this product.

"The inventor (unfortunately, I don't remember his name) bought puffed wheat in bulk, coated it with a honey-based sweetener of his own making and then packaged it and attempted to sell it to local grocery stores. He made this cereal at home in a couple of Bendix washing machines. He named it "Miss (unremembered name)'s cereal". Whatever the name was, it apparently did not
sell well.

"The pre-sweetened cereal idea was a good one though, and all rights to the product were acquired by a man named "Moe Berger" (last name possibly mis-spelled). Manufacturing facilities were improved and enlarged and the
Philadelphia advertising agency was retained to promote sales. This is the point at which I entered the picture.

"In the late 1940's I was employed by Lamb & Keen to develop and write a program for the new medium of television. The show was to be designed to appeal primarily to children. I had no experience in this area- but then, neither did anyone else (capable professionals were not about to give up their lucrative jobs in radio to work in this untried medium).

"Initially, the program was to be divided into two parts - an adventure episode and a "how to" segment ("secrets of the plains for young wranglers"}. Much of the second part was inspired by the Boy Scout manual. A musical segment was added when Jesse Rogers was hired for the role of Ranger Joe.

"In the beginning, budgetary restrictions dictated that I write, direct, produce, and sometimes get friends and family to act in the show. Many of the props were made at home in my basement.

"The program became locally popular, Ranger Joe cereal sales increased, additional regional stations were added to the lineup. I was offered an opportunity to move to New York and produce other network TV shows (eventually I did).

"Ranger Joe candy bars were added to the product line. Sales reached the point   where Nabisco made an offer to buy out the company. An acceptable price could not be negotiated and the offer was turned down. Nabisco did, ultimately, make a succesful bid and the product was added to their line. I am not certain of the dates of the sale to Nabisco. I saw a date of 1939 mentioned in one website, but this was obviously not possible. Nabisco played no role during the time I was associated with the show.

"If memory serves, I believe that the "Ranger Joe" show originated at WFIL, the ABC network station in Philadelphia."


- Tom Brennan
tbrennan@darientel.net


Recollections:

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If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about Ranger Joe, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com


2002 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 10/18/05