Rack, Shack and Benny is the fourth episode of the VeggieTales animated series and the first to present one story instead of two shorter segments. The show was first released in late November 10, 1995 on VHS by Word Entertainment. In August 25, 1998 by Lyrick Studios on DVD with special quality. Subtitled "A Lesson in Handling Peer Pressure," it teaches viewers about avoiding unhealthy peer pressure and standing up for their beliefs.
The video is a retelling of the biblical story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, from the Book of Daniel. In the story, King Nebuchadnezzar II requires that all his subjects bow down to a fanfare before a false idol. But three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refuse and are thrown into a furnace. They remain unharmed, and Nebuchadnezzar recognizes the power of their God.
Rack, Shack and Benny adheres to the original story, but places it in a chocolate factory at which all employees are required to bow down before a giant chocolate bunny and sing "The Bunny Song."
The episode starts with Bob the Tomato with Larry the Cucumber, who is wearing an oven mitten on his head. When asked why, Larry says that it is because he saw it on the cover of "Veggie Beat" magazine and that everyone is doing it. Unable to see, however, he almost falls into a toaster and he ultimately crashes into the sink. Bob reads a letter from Dexter Wilmington from Tuscaloosa, Alabama about how he has peer pressure problems and is being tempted by his friend "Billy" to watch a show that Dexter is not supposed to watch yet. Bob then introduces the story about three people who had a similar experience.
The story is told by Grandpa George and takes place at the Nezzer Chocolate Factory (an analogue for the biblical Babylon), where the employees work hard all day in making Nezzer Chocolate Bunnies on an assembly line. Among the plant employees are three kids named Shadrach (Bob the Tomato), Meshach (Junior Asparagus), and Abednego (Larry the Cucumber), though everybody just calls them Rack, Shack, and Benny as their full names are too difficult to remember. Another employee, Laura Carrot, works as the factory's delivery girl.
As the story begins, the factory has just sold its 2,000,000th chocolate bunny of the day and owner Nebby K. Nezzer (Mr. Nezzer) announces that all employees of the Nezzer Chocolate Factory may celebrate by eating as many bunnies as they like for thirty minutes. While all the employees tear ravenously into the chocolate bunnies, Shack reminds Rack and Benny to heed their parents' advice about not eating too much candy because it can be unhealthy. To emphasize, Shack recites a naptime song that his mother taught him as a baby and reminds them that even though their parents are not with them, they must always remember their wishes. When Mr. Nezzer and his sidekick Sedgewick Lunt comes out to soak up the appreciation of his employees, he finds them all lying ill, except for Rack, Shack, and Benny. Impressed by their ability to stand up for themselves, Mr. Nezzer promotes them to Junior Executives (which means they get to wear a tie).
The following day, Mr. Nezzer calls the trio into his office and gives them a sneak peek at his secret project. Wanting to show everybody at Nezzer Chocolate about how important "the bunny" is, Mr. Nezzer believes that if it were a big bunny, all of his employees would love it as much as he. Mr. Nezzer then shows them a model despicting a ninety-foot bunny statue for his employees to worship. He also demonstrates a song of worship called "The Bunny Song" with lyrics stating that nothing in the world, be it God, parents, healthy food, Church, or School, is more important than "the bunny". When asked by Rack as to what would happen if someone refuses to sing and worship, Mr. Nezzer draws their attention to the furnace (where the "bad bunnies" are disposed of) and warns that "in my mind, if you don't bow down and sing the song, you're a bad bunny!"
The completed bunny statue is unveiled later in the day, and Mr. Nezzer orders all his employees to bow down and sing. However, Mr. Lunt notices that Rack, Shack, and Benny are not bowing, and Mr. Nezzer confronts them. Shack (later joined by Rack and Benny) tries to sing his naptime song. Mr. Nezzer is briefly touched (saying that the song "Junior's Lullaby" was wonderful), but it does not change his mind and so Rack, Shack and Benny are sent to the furnace.
The story takes a short break at this point for "Silly Songs with Larry". Larry, dressed in "authentic Argentinian garb" (complete with a sombrero), sings and dances to a Spanish ballad called "The Dance of the Cucumber," while Bob the Tomato translates the Spanish lyrics. As the song proceeds, Larry taunts Bob in Spanish, which Bob unintentionally translates. As the song grinds to a stop over Bob's increasing anger towards Larry's taunts, Junior Asparagus and his parents (all dressed as Disney tourists) arrive for an photo opportunity. The song then continues and Larry again taunts Bob until the tomato finally loses his temper and chases Larry offstage.
The main story then resumes as Mr. Nezzer sings about everything he did for the boys and how they disobey him in return. The conveyor belt carries them down to the furnace but he gives Rack, Shack and Benny one more chance to sing the song. But still the trio refuse, explaining that they were taught to stand up for their beliefs. Mr. Nezzer understands their reasoning but condemns them as bad bunnies. Then he sends them down a chute into the furnace. However, they are rescued at the last second by Laura Carrot in her delivery truck. She (pursued by two carrot guards,) attempts to escape the factory, but Rack, Shack, and Benny are captured and the three boys eventually fall into the furnace. As Mr. Nezzer gloats, the lights suddenly go out and a strange sound hums through the factory. As this happens, Mr. Lunt looks inside the furnace and notices that there's a fourth person in the furnace who's "real shiny" and that nobody is burning up. When Rack, Shack, and Benny emerge from the furnace unscathed, Mr. Nezzer realizes that their faith in God is what saved them despite the peer pressure he inflicted on them. The three boys forgive Mr. Nezzer for his mistakes and lead him and the factory into a song appropriately titled "Stand Up"
Back on the countertop, Larry is still stuck in the sink. He recognizes now that peer pressure is not good, and that common sense, one's own beliefs, and what one was taught by one's parents are more valuable than fleeting fads. Lamenting his wasted life, Bob offers to help Larry up, but during the rescue is stranded in Larry's place. Larry wraps up the show with Qwerty's verse, 2nd Thessalonians 2:15, which talks about standing up for one's beliefs and remembering parental advice. Larry leaves the scene, ignoring the fact that Bob is still stuck in the sink, and the episode ends.
Cast of Characters
- Bob the Tomato as Rack, Bob Mexican, and Himself
- Junior Asparagus as Shack and Himself
- Larry the Cucumber as Benny, Oven Mitt, Argentinian Garb and Himself
- Laura Carrot as Delivery Girl
- Mr. Nezzer as Himself
- Mr. Lunt as Himself
- George as Himself and the Narrator
- The American Peas as Chocolate Factory Employees
- Mom Asparagus as Shack's Mom and Herself
- Percy Pea as Worker
- Dad Asparagus as Himself
- The 3 Female Asparagus Singers as Themselves
- Dwarfs as Themselves
- The Silly Song Narrator
- Lenny Carrot as Chocolate Factory employees
- Carrot Guards as Chocolate Factory guards
- Qwerty as Himself
- Pea Boy with Long Brown Hair
- VeggieTales Theme Song
- Good Morning George (The Chocolate Factory)
- Think Of Me (Jr.'s Lullaby)
- The Bunny Song
- Think Of Me (Reprise)
- Dance Of The Cucumber
- I Tried To Be Patient (The Bunny Song Reprise)
- Stand (Up for What You Believe In)
- What We Have Learned
Changes To The Bunny Song
On the original 1995 VHS for Rack, Shack and Benny, Mr. Nezzer sings The Bunny Song, with lines such as, "I don't love my mom or my dad, just the bunny," and, "I won't go to church and I won't go to school." As Phil Vischer mentioned in an interview on the DVD edition that he hoped that kids who saw the heroes refuse to sing the song would recognize its negative context as unacceptable, but concerned and unhappy parents wrote to Big Idea, complaining that their kids were singing in public about not loving their mom or their dad or not going to church or school. Vischer said that the lesson that he learned was to never mix negative lyrics with a catchy tune, since kids will sing the song irrespective of the content.
For the first VeggieTales sing-along video, a "New and Improved Bunny Song" was written, which had a repentant Mr. Nezzer singing that eating too much candy is wrong and that Church and School are important. The original offending lines were dubbed to, "I didn't eat my soup or my bread, just the bunny," and "Yeah, I'll go to church and I'll go to school," respectively. The backup singing from the original remains unaltered, though Mr. Nezzer is now trying to get the girls to stop singing with no success.
Following the 1995 re-print of Rack, Shack & Benny, the song has been changed again such that "I don't love my mom or my dad" was changed to "I don't love my soup or my bread," and the line "I won't go to church and I won't go to school" was changed to "I won't eat no beans and I won't eat tofu" respectively.
Directed by PHIL VISCHER
Written by PHIL VISCHER
Storyboarding by PHIL VISCHER
Concept Art MIKE NAWROCKI CHRIS OLSEN RON SMITH PHIL VISCHER
Character Voices DAN ANDERSON KRISTIN BLEGEN MIKE NAWROCKI LISA VISCHER PHIL VISCHER
Edited by MIKE NAWROCKI
Sound Effects Editor MIKE NAWROCKI
Animation Supervisor CHRIS OLSEN
Character Animators THOMAS DANEN ROBERT ELLIS MIKE NAWROCKI CHRIS OLSEN RON SMITH PHIL VISCHER
Translation LISA NAWROCKI MANUEL VALENCIA
Render Management LESLY BENODIN
Software Development LESLY BENODIN
Musical Score Composed And Produced by KURT HEINECKE
Audio Engineering MIKE NAWROCKI
Instruments KURT HEINECKE RUSS NOLAN MIKE SAGE
Choir GINGER TAM LISA VISCHER
Content Consultant SCOTTIE MAY Ed.D.