Former advertising executive Sue Rose created the character of Pepper Ann for a comic strip appearing in YM Magazine, which featured the titular character talking to herself about her inner feelings. A friend suggested to Rose that she should try and adapt the strip into a television show.
|Early Pepper Ann designs.|
Rose created a storyline, made Pepper Ann a little younger, and gave her a supporting cast, then pitched the series to Nickelodeon in 1995. They turned it down, feeling it looked too close to Fido Dido; another character she created that appeared in commercial bumpers for CBS and in ads for things like Slice and 7-Up. Rose approached Tom Warburton, who had worked with her previously on the Fido campaigns and became responsible for Fido’s annual style guide, to redesign her characters to make them less Fido-ish. Nickelodeon eventually passed on the series entirely, leaving it open for Disney to acquire it for their upcoming One Saturday Morning programming block.
|Milo, Lydia, Pepper Ann, Moose and Nicky.|
Pepper Ann followed the adventures of seventh grader Pepper (Kathleen Wilhoite) at Hazelnut Middle School. Pepper would deal with the trials and tribulations of adolescence by often falling into a fantasy situation with her fertile imagination and coming up with a solution. Of course, that doesn’t prevent her from sometimes making the wrong decisions and making things worse. Her best friends were Nicky Little (Clea Lewis), a soft-spoken and overachieving violinist that was a reformed bully, and Milo Kamalani (Danny Cooksey), an eccentric and highly dramatic artist. As her parents were divorced, Pepper lived with her perky and overprotective mother, Lydia (April Winchell) and tomboyish little sister, Margaret Rose, aka “Moose” (Pamela Segall). Her father, Chuck (Maurice LaMarche), flew blimps and sometimes--though rarely--came to visit. Pepper’s aunt, Janie Diggety (Susan Tolsky), a former Green Beret-turned-activist, often aided Pepper in finding the solutions to her problems. Pepper had a crush on eighth grader Craig Bean (Jeff Bennett), who played in a band and seemed to also have a crush on her.
|Trinket stressing out.|
Pepper’s main rival was Trinket St. Blair (Jenna von Oy), a rich, spoiled, popular girl who wasn’t subtle about telling people how to improve their looks and was always on the phone with an unseen character named “Marie”. Trinket’s best friend was Cissy Rooney (Kath Soucie), a popular airhead. Another rival was Alice Kane (Lauren Tom), who always seemed to try and one-up anything Pepper did. Pepper’s final rival was Wayne Macabre (Wallance Langham), a student who briefly ran the school’s radio station and whom Pepper regarded as a loudmouth since he made fun of everything she liked.
|Tessa and Vanessa James.|
Other characters included Tessa and Vanessa James (both Cree Summer), twins and classmates of Pepper’s who were always quick to spread the latest gossip around the school; Brenda (Tara Strong), Pepper’s old best friend who moved to town and discovered they no longer had anything in common; Amber O’Malley (Jodi Benson), who became the most popular girl in school for a week when Cissy went away; Dieter Liederhosen (Bennett), a transplant from Germany who moved to America with his mother; Effie Shrugg (Hedy Burress), a tall girl that befriended Pepper and her friends, but was also a bit of a bully; Constance Goldman (Candi Milo), a shy and awkward girl that decided to hang out with Pepper and her friends in order to absorb some of their “coolness”; Ned Diggety (Bennett), Pepper’s older slacker cousin who had an obsession with cheese; Crying Girl (Soucie & Summer), who was overemotional and could run out of a room in tears at any moment; Stewart Walldinger (Luke Perry & Cam Clarke), a unique individual that could fit in with any crowd, including the ultra-cool eighth graders; Hush (Segall), a cool eighth grader that rarely spoke; Sketch (Karen Duffy), the coolest of the eighth graders that threw awesome parties; and Poison and Tank (Brittany Murphy and Meredith Scott Lynn as either role), a pair of eighth graders that hung out with Hush and Sketch who also rarely spoke outside of an eighth grade lingo.
|Teaching a class is no reason to stop knitting.|
What would a school be without teachers? And, like the students, they all had their little quirks. Roland Carter (Jim Cummings) was the science teacher who seemed to be as hard on Pepper and eager to give her detention as he was in love with science; Coach Doogan (Kathy Najimy) left being a nun in a convent in order to become a physical education instructor; Mr. Reason (Kurtwood Smith), was the shop teacher who somehow earned a nasty reputation; Abriola Stark (Winchell), was an eccentric math teacher who was very passionate about the subject and also led the Drama Club; Carlotta Sneed (Julia Sweeney), was an economics teacher whose penchant for knitting got her fired from an accounting firm when she used it to help her do math; Sherman Finky (Don Lake), was the social studies teacher who tried to (poorly) connect with his students by using what he thinks is their lingo; Coach Bronson (Thomas F. Wilson), was the football coach who had a prominent bite mark on his right ear; Mr. Clapper (James Avery), was the music teacher who gave music lessons and conducted the band; and Bronte Bladdar (BeBe Neuwirth), was a monotoned and unenthusiastic English teacher who was only teaching until she found a man. The principal was Herbert Kickey (Don Adams), who wished he could abolish the First Amendment and counted down the days until Pepper would finally graduate and take her crazy misadventures with her. His secretary, Vera Schwartz (Paddi Edwards), was often responsible for announcements in the school and had a talent for scatting and beat poetry.
|Magazine ad for One Saturday Morning.|
Pepper Ann was one of the debut programs of One Saturday Morning on September 13, 1997 on ABC, along with fellow Disney property 101 Dalmatians: The Series and the recently-acquired Brand Spanking New Doug. It was the first show made by Walt Disney Television Animation created by a woman. The show’s opening sequence typically ended with Pepper Ann finding something under her desk and showing it to the audience. For the first season, she always found five bucks; but in each subsequent season she would find something different. The show’s theme music was composed by Brian Woodbury and performed by Wilhoite, while the series’ music was by Pat Irwin. It was animated by SunWoo Animation Co., Inc.
|Pepper Ann showing her gym teacher her recently-acquired sport bra.|
Episodes were typically broken up into two story segments, however single stories were peppered (no pun) throughout the show’s run. The year it began was when television networks implemented the FCC-mandated ratings system and the majority of the series was rated TV-Y; however, several episodes were rated TV-Y7 due to their subject matter being deemed too mature for children under 7 such as “In Support Of”, which dealt with puberty and implied nudity. In reruns, the TV-Y7 rating was attached to the entire series due to the presence of such topics as divorce, dating, racism, death, gender equality, moral ambiguity and unemployment in many of the stories and their lessons. The series kept a fairly small stable of writers that included Mirith J.S. Colao, Laura McCreary, David Hemingson, Nahnatchka Khan, Matthew Negrete, Scott M. Gimple, Madellaine Paxson, Sean Whalen, Eddy Sato, Allison Heartinger, Emily Kapnek, Roger Reitzel, and Edward Guzelian. Comedian Mo Rocca joined the writing staff during the second season; the same year he began his tenure as a correspondent on The Daily Show. Rose herself only co-wrote “The Big Pencil”. Khan also served as a story editor, sometimes with McCreary and Negrete. Dr. Diana Meehan, founder of The Archer School for Girls, was an educational consultant on several episodes.
|Spelling out one of the show's pro-social messages.|
After five seasons, the show reached the Disney-mandated 65-episode limit and ended production. It was taken off the block and replaced by The Weekenders, entering into syndicated reruns. It moved to the sister block Disney’s One Too on UPN where it aired on weekday afternoons and Sunday mornings between 2000 and 2001. After that, it aired on The Disney Channel for a few months before finding a new home on Toon Disney. It remained there until it was replaced by the Jetix programming block in 2004. The last known airing of the show in the United States was a two-hour block on Toon Disney in 2007. The show has been seen on Disney Channel Portugal as late as 2011. In 2021, the first three seasons were made available to stream on Disney+.
|A page of the comic from Disney Adventures.|
Golden Books released a collection of paper dolls and outfits that could be removed from the book they came in and put together. They also published an adaptation of “Old Best Friend.”. Disney Press published Soccer Sensation as part of their Disney Chapters line. Mattel released a figurine doll of Pepper and a fully plush doll. Comics based on the show appeared in the pages of Disney Adventures magazine.
|Pepper Ann and Lydia "meet" Pete.|
The final appearance of Pepper Ann and her mother was in a cameo of the first episode of Disney’s House of Mouse, “The Stolen Cartoons”. They were the only Walt Disney Television characters to appear on the series, which otherwise made use of Disney’s feature film, short and occasionally comic book catalogue of characters.
“Ziterella” (9/13/97) – Pepper Ann gets a zit on yearbook picture day while Principal Hickey tries to find a replacement photographer when the one they hired gets sick.
“Romeo and Juliet / Food Barn” (9/20/97) – Pepper Ann is unimpressed with the school’s choice of play until she learns her crush is playing Romeo. / Pepper Ann and Milo get a job at a supermarket for economics class and Milo becomes the boss’ favorite.
“Old Best Friend / Crunch Pod” (9/27/97) – Pepper Ann’s old best friend visits, but realizes she’s very annoying and possessive. / Milo gets jealous when Pepper Ann beats his high score in a game.
“Psychic Moose / Doll and Chain” (10/4/97) – Pepper Ann believes her sister is clairvoyant. / Pepper Ann is assigned to care for a plastic baby doll.
“Megablades of Grass / Family Vacation” (10/11/97) – Pepper Ann exploits Milo’s talent for creating art out of lawn cuttings for money. / The Pearson’s go on vacation and drives Pepper Ann crazy.
“The Big Pencil / Sani-Paper” (10/18/97) – Pepper Ann vows to defeat her science fair rival. / Pepper Ann and Milo go undercover at a toilet cover factory when she suspects they’re corrupt.
“Uniform Uniformity / Snot Your Mother’s Music” (10/25/97) – Pepper Ann’s mother is hired to design the school’s new uniforms. / Pepper Ann is shocked to learn her favorite musician is friends with her mother.
“The Environ-Mentals” (11/8/97) – Pepper Ann tries to hide a family secret while making the park cleanup event epic, and Milo’s art earns him a lot of abuse around town.
“Crush and Burn / Soccer Season” (11/15/97) – Pepper Ann lies about being Milo’s girlfriend to his insane crush, which leads to problems around the school. / When Pepper Ann becomes the star player on her team, she becomes conceited.
“Thanksgiving Dad” (11/22/97) – Pepper Ann believes her father will actually visit this Thanksgiving.
“Sketch 22 / Manly Milo” (1/10/98) – Pepper Ann poses an 8th grader in order to hang out with older kids. / Feeling spending time with girls has made him a joke, Milo asks Pepper Ann to help him become manlier.
“Have You Ever Been Unsupervised? / The Unusual Suspects” (1/17/98) – Pepper Ann freaks out when she’s invited to Dieter’s unsupervised birthday party. / Hickey tries to find out who stole the school’s otter statue.
“Nicky Gone Bad / In Support Of” (1/24/98) – Nicky feels taken advantage of and does a complete personality change. / Pepper Ann has to go bra-shopping with her mom and sister for an upcoming trampoline gym class.
“Quiz Bowl / License to Drive” (9/12/98) – Pepper Ann slacks off when she’s chosen as an alternate for the Quiz Bowl team, but needs to cram when Nicki gets sick. / Pepper Ann butters up her cousin so that he’ll drive her to school in the car he’s potentially getting.
“Cocoon Gables / Green-Eyed Monster” (9/19/98) – Pepper Ann is assigned to work at a retirement home and learns some lessons about age. / Pepper Ann becomes jealous when the new girl gets her shot at popularity.
“Hazelnut’s Finest / Cat Scan” (9/26/98) – Hazelnut has to document her uncle’s job as a cop, but is disappointed when it’s not exciting. / Pepper Ann’s cat runs off and becomes the mascot for a local lottery show.
“An OtterBiography / GreenSleeves” (10/3/98) – Pepper Ann hates dressing up as a mascot, but discovers it allows her to talk to Craig easier. / Unable to become a piano virtuoso on her own, Pepper Ann uses a light-up keyboard to pretend to be talented.
“Vanessa Less Tessa / Peer Counsellor P.A.” (10/10/98) – Pepper Ann uses lessons from a sitcom to help Vanessa and Tessa reconcile. / Pepper Ann accidentally signs up for peer counseling believing it’s for a vacation to a carnival.
“A ‘Tween Halloween / Mash into Me” (10/31/98) – Milo wants Pepper Ann to go trick-or-treating with him, but when she takes a poll that reveals no one else is she thinks she may be too old for it. / Crash harasses Pepper Ann when he finds out she resembles his favorite superhero.
“Presenting Stewart Walldinger / P.A’s Life in a Nutshell” (11/14/98) – Pepper Ann doesn’t want Nicky to set her up with Stewart as she thinks he’s a big nerd. / Pepper Ann sneaks out to attend the Springtime Late Night Flashback Bash against Lydia’s wishes.
“Like Riding a Bike” (11/28/98) – Pepper Ann tries to break up Lydia and her science teacher when they start dating.
“Radio Freak Hazelnut / Framed” (12/5/98) – Pepper Ann discovers a pirate radio show that is against all of her favorite things. / Pepper Ann is accused of graffitiing all over town.
“Portrait of the Artist as a Young Milo / The Sisterhood” (12/12/98) – Milo suffers a creative block for the first time. / Lydia and Janie drag Pepper Ann to a women’s retreat.
“Impractical Jokes / Cold Feet” (12/26/98) – Pepper Ann turns a simple joke-off into an all-out war. / Grandma Lillian tells Pepper Ann some stories from her past during her 50th anniversary vow renewal.
“Doppelganger Didi / Pepper Ann’s Day Off-Kilter” (1/9/99) – Pepper Ann sees a private school student that looks just like her. / Pepper Ann decides to take a sick day and discovers life at home is kind of boring.
“No Hair Day / That’s My Dad” (1/16/99) – Pepper Ann worries she may be shallow as she doesn’t think Craig looks good with a shaved head. / A comment from Trinket sparks Pepper Ann to learn more about her father.
“You Oughta Be in Musicals1’ (9/11/99) – Pepper Ann auditions for a musical for some excitement, but getting knocked out sends her into a musical world.
“Dances with Ignorance / Girl Power” (9/18/99) – Pepper Ann inadvertently offends the Navajo family she invites to dinner when she learns she’s 1/16 Navajo. / Moose, Janie and Lydia protest when Moose’s favorite comic book heroine is stereotypically feminized for a new cartoon.
“Beyond Good and Evel / One of the Guys” (9/25/99) – Moose attempts to get a statue of Evel Knievel erected in the park. / Being picked for and loved by the football team makes Pepper Ann question her femininity.
“The Wash-Out / Def Comedy Mom” (11/6/99) – Pepper Ann starts a rumor about why Gwen was sent home after seeing the principal. / Lydia considers trying to be a stand-up comic but Pepper Ann is worried she’ll be the butt of most of her jokes.
“The First Date Club / Unicycle of Life” (11/13/99) – Pepper Ann worries her night out with Craig is actually a date. / Pepper Ann goes to great lengths to stop a rumor that she and Milo are dating.
“A Kosher Christmas” (12/18/99) – A school assignment leads Pepper Ann to think about if she enjoys Christmas or Hannukah more.
“Effie Shrugged / Mom Knows What P.A. Did Two Nights Ago” (1/15/00) – Feeling neglected by her friends, Pepper Ann makes a new one who might be a bit of a bully. / Pepper Ann tries to hide that she saw an R-rated movie from her mother.
“The Spanish Imposition / Single Unemployed Mother” (1/22/00) – Pepper Ann misses out on signing up for an easy elective and ends up having to take Spanish. / Lydia quits her job and Pepper Ann does what she can to help bring in money.
“Burn, Hazelnut, Burn / Career Daze” (2/6/00) – A bad film review sees the director challenge Pepper Ann to make her own. / A school aptitude test puts Pepper Ann and her friends in unlikely careers.
“G.I. Janie / Miss Moose” (2/7/00) – Protesting against a new violent video game ends up getting Janie hooked on it. / Pepper Ann tries to make Moose more feminine.
“Pepper Shaker / Flaw and Order” (2/8/00) – An earthquake has Pepper Ann worried about natural disasters. / Pepper Ann learns the importance of the role she plays in a mock trial of the Boston Tea Party.
“Baggy Bean Buddies / The Beans of Wrath” (2/9/00) – In an addiction group meeting Pepper Ann explains how she became addicted to collecting stuffed toys. / Pepper Ann and Janie compete in a floral competition against Dieter.
“The Velvet Room” (2/10/00) – When Lydia goes crazy redecorating the house, Pepper Ann decides to run away.
“One Angry Woman” (2/11/00) – While Lydia is on jury duty Pepper Ann has to keep the house clean.
“The Sellout / The Telltale Fuzzy” (2/13/00) – Pepper Ann and Nicky’s friendship comes to an end over a concert ticket. / Pepper Ann uses some found money to buy a painting, but begins to feel guilt over not trying to find who it belonged to first.
“A Valentine’s Day Tune” (2/14/00) – Pepper Ann is visited by three spirits to try and change her hatred of Valentine’s Day.
“Sammy’s Song / Permanent Record” (2/15/00) – Pepper Ann protests against a peanut butter company whose jars prove dangerous to animals. / Nicky plots to break into school and remove her first detention from her permanent record.
“Live and Let Dye” (2/16/00) – Pepper Ann disastrously tries to dye her hair to stand out while Lydia dates a country line-dancing teacher with a secret.
“Remote Possibilities / Considering Constance” (2/17/00) – Nicky and Stewart trade hobbies to get perspective on each other’s’ lives. / A shy middle schooler turns to Pepper Ann to help her be more confident and charismatic.
“To Germany with Love” (2/18/00) – Dieter sends his father a video letter about his time in Hazelnut.
“Bye, Bye Trinket / P.A.’s Pop Fly” (2/20/00) – Trinket announces she’s transferring to a boarding school. / Pepper Ann catches a fly ball and is torn between selling it and giving it back to the player who wants to commemorate the best moment of his life with it.
“My Mother, Myself” (2/21/00) – A comet passes over their house and causes Pepper Ann and Lydia to switch lives.
“The Amazing Becky Little” (9/22/00) – When Nicky’s top-student sister returns to the school it brings back her feelings of inadequacy.
“The Untitled Milo Kamalani Project / Guess Who’s Coming to the Theater” (2/23/00) – Milo is shocked when his joke entry ends up winning a competition to be a band’s album cover. / Pepper Ann worries that she’ll be embarrassed in front of her parents’ dates at her play.
“The Great Beyond / Jaybirds of a Feather” (2/25/00) – Her cat’s illness has Pepper Ann wondering about death. / Pepper Ann has to rejoin the Junior Jaybirds to get her last merit badge.
“The Way They Were” (2/27/00) – A fight causes Pepper Ann and her friends to split up.
“The One with Mr. Reason / Sense and Senselessness” (9/9/00) – Pepper Ann doesn’t like her woodshop teacher’s tough love approach to teaching. / Pepper Ann uses a relationship book to figure out who she wants to take to a party.