SpongeBob Squarepants, America's favorite cartoon sponge.
SpongeBob Squarepants, America's favorite cartoon sponge. - 
Listen To The Story


Steve Chiotakis: OK kiddies: "SpongeBob Squarepants" turns 10 today. Can you believe it? It seems like yesterday we were watching Scooby Doo. And it's not just kids who've made ol' SpongeBob an $8 billion a year merchandising bonanza for Nickelodeon. Rico Gagliano reports.

Rico Gagliano: Richard Gottlieb is a toy analyst. But he says you don't have to be into toys to know there's a lot of Spongebob Squarepants stuff in this world.

Richard Gottlieb: I have actually purchased Spongebob carrots before. Spongebob was on the package. When you get Spongebob carrots, you're really out there.

Out there in childland and adultland. The silly show's appeal goes far beyond kids. Gottlieb says that's because it's got "the wink."

Gottlieb: And that's the ability of the creator to in a sense wink at the adult by having a message that goes over the child's head, but gives the adult pleasure, a little bit of a surprise.

The show's ridiculous situations actually speak to grown-up issues. Like the time the dour squid "Squidward" moved to a gated underwater suburbia, and wound up bored out of his . . . squll.

Squidward: We might as well rename this "Squidward's paradise." Or perhaps, too much paradise.

The result: an army of kids and grown-ups -- among them our nation's president -- who proudly pledge allegiance to team Squarepants. VH-1 just aired a Spongebob documentary featuring testimonials from the likes of LeBron James. And a jewelry line is on the way, with items priced at a very adult $95 to $350 bucks a pop.

In Los Angeles, I'm Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.