The Acme Corporation is a fictional corporation that features prominently in the Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons as a running gag featuring outlandish products that fail catastrophically at the worst possible times. The name is also used as a generic title in many cartoons, films and TV series.
The company name in the Road Runner cartoons is ironic, since the word acme is derived from Greek (ακμή; English transliteration: acmē) meaning the peak, zenith or prime, and products from the fictional Acme Corporation are both generic and tend to fail.
The name Acme became popular for businesses by the 1920s, when alphabetized business telephone directories such as the Yellow Pages began to be widespread. There were a flood of businesses named Acme (some of these still survive). For example, early Sears catalogs contained a number of products with the "Acme" trademark, including anvils, which are frequently used in Warner Bros. cartoons.
- " We were little madcaps along the beach and we did what we enjoyed doing and could get dirty and could eat hot dogs and so on. Since we had to search out our own entertainment, we devised our own fairy stories. If you wanted a bow and arrow you got a stick. If you wanted to conduct an orchestra you got a stick. If you wanted a duel you used a stick. You couldn't go and buy one; that's where the terms acme came from. Whenever we played a game where we had a grocery store or something we called it the ACME corporation. Why? Because in the yellow pages if you looked, say, under drugstores, you'd find the first one would be Acme Drugs. Why? Because "AC" was about as high as you could go; it means the best; the superlative."
- ― Chuck Jones
Fictional depiction Edit
The company is never clearly defined in Road Runner cartoons but appears to be a conglomerate which produces every type of product imaginable, no matter how elaborate or extravagant - none of which ever work as desired or expected. In the Road Runner cartoon Beep, Beep, it was referred as "Acme Rocket-Powered Products, Inc." based in Fairfield, New Jersey. Many of its products appear to be produced specifically for Wile E. Coyote; for example, the Acme Giant Rubber Band, subtitled "(For Tripping Road Runners)".
While their products leave much to be desired, Acme delivery service is second to none; Wile E. can merely drop an order into a mailbox (or enter an order on a website, as in the Looney Tunes: Back in Action movie), and have the product in his hands within seconds.
In one of the later episodes, it is revealed that Acme is "A Wholly-Owned Subsidiary Of Roadrunner Corporation."
The name "Acme" is used as a generic corporate name in a huge number of cartoons, comics, television shows (as early as an I Love Lucy episode), and film (as early as Harold Lloyd's 1922 silent film Grandma's Boy).
Examples in Warner Bros. cartoons which specifically reference the Wile E. Coyote meme include:
- The 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit attempted to explain Acme's inner workings in detail. The movie's plot is centered on the murder of Marvin Acme, the founder of Acme Incorporated. Many of the film's scenes involve Acme products, and the climactic scene of the film is set in the Acme factory.
- The Tiny Toons Adventures series expanded on Acme's influence, with the entire setting of the show taking place in a city called "Acme Acres". The show's young protagonists attended "Acme Looniversity." Calamity Coyote often bought products from the fictional Acme company in his quest to catch the road-runner Little Beeper. In one episode, the company revealed its slogan: "For fifty years, the leader in creative mayhem."
- In Quest for Camelot, Ruber uses a potion labeled "ACME" to transform his henchmen into a mechanical army. Ruber later uses it to meld Excalibur to his arm. The potion was destroyed after Ruber had accidentally stabbed the sword back in the stone.
- In Wakko's Wish, the Animaniacs feature film, the Warner Brothers and other characters live in the village of Acme Falls.
- The 2003 movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action showed the head offices of Acme, revealed to be a multinational corporation whose executive officers were led by a supervillain called Mr. Chairman, portrayed by Steve Martin.
- The cartoon series, Loonatics Unleashed, is set in Acmetropolis.
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