The Late Movies: Kids Incorporated

The children's TV show Kids Incorporated ran from 1984 through 1993 and featured a group of kids who performed in their own rock group, Kids Incorporated, at a former musical club called The Palace. While you may not have heard of the show before, you should be familiar with some of its regular cast members, dancers, and guest stars. The clips below feature some of the bigger names who guest starred on Kids Incorporated or who spent some of their younger days in its cast.

1. Stacy Ferguson

Stacy, or "Fergie" as she's now known, was the youngest cast member, at about 8 years old, when the show began, and she remained with the show for more seasons than anyone else, not leaving until 1990. Within 2 years, she had joined the group Wild Orchid (then New Rhythm Generation or NRG), which she left in 2001. She joined The Black-Eyed Peas for their 2003 album, and the rest is history.

Stacy covers Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" from the season 2 episode "A Pain in the Neck."

2. Jennifer Love Hewitt

One of Jennifer Love Hewitt's earliest roles was as Robin in season 7 of Kids Incorporated. She went on to star in movies such as I Know What You Did Last Summer, Can't Hardly Wait, and Heartbreakers and television shows, including Party of Five, The Ghost Whisperer, and The Client List. She's also released 4 studio albums, including one the year after her Kids Incorporated run, which made her a star in Japan.

Jennifer sings lead on this Kids Incorporated original, "Where There's a Will," which opened the season 7 episode "Mummy Dearest."

3. Mario Lopez

Kids Incorporated was Mario Lopez's first recorded role; he was one of the many dancers, but he was also a singer in the first season and served as the drummer from 1984 through 1986. In one notable episode, his character taught "The Kid" (played by Rahsaan Patterson) to wrestle. Post-Kids Inc., Mario starred in the many iterations of Saved by the Bell. He's hosted many shows and events, including Extra and America's Best Dance Crew, appeared on Broadway in A Chorus Line, competed in the season 3 of Dancing with the Stars, and published 3 books.

Mario is on drums in this cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" from the season 1 episode "Robot Bop."

4. Eric Balfour

One of his very first roles, Eric Balfour played Eric on Kids Incorporated for season 7, in 1991. In 1997, he was one of the first victims in the pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He starred in the short-lived Dick Wolf TV drama Conviction, the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the TV show Life on Mars. He's most well-known for his roles as Milo Pressman on 24 and as Duke Crocker on the current Syfy show Haven.

Eric, with Kenny Ford, covers the Nelson song "Love and Affection" in the season 7 episode "Flip Out."

5. David Hasselhoff

In the first season of Kids Incorporated, David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff guest-starred in an episode called "School's for Fools." At that point, he was starring in Knight Rider and had already spent eight years on the cast of The Young and the Restless. Since his appearance on Kids Inc., he's starred in Baywatch, served as a judge on America's Got Talent, and competed in Dancing with the Stars. He released his first album in 1985 and has put out 17 more albums since then.

David and the Kids cover The Contours' "Do You Love Me?" in the 15th episode of season 1.

6. Florence Henderson

By the time Florence Henderson appeared as the "Granny" of Jared (played by Jared Delgin) in season 8 of Kids Incorporated in 1992, she was already well-known for her role as Mrs. Brady in The Brady Bunch and its many offshoots. She has continued to guest-star in a variety of shows since her appearance on Kids Incorporated.

Florence's "Granny" and her grandson Jared sing a cover of Kathy Treccoli's "Everything Changes" with the rest of the Kids. (Watch closely -- Florence also appears to play saxophone.)

7. Brittany Murphy

When Brittany Murphy had a guest role in season 8 of Kids Inc., she had already starred in the TV show Drexell's Class and appeared in an episode of Murphy's Law. Three years later, she was nominated for a Young Artists Award for her role in Clueless. Post-Clueless, she starred in Drop Dead Gorgeous, Girl, Interrupted, 8 Mile, and Uptown Girls, among others, voiced Luanne Platter and more characters for the TV show King of the Hill, and appeared in a variety of other TV shows.

Brittany and Nicole cover the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" in the season 8 episode "Lay Off."

8. Scott Wolf

Scott Wolf appeared in one episode of Kids Incorporated, in which he played identical twins named Billy and Bobby. (Billy was the new friend of Eric, played by Eric Balfour, listed above.) He had already appeared in 4 episodes of Saved by the Bell at that point, and he went on to star in Party of Five (with Kids Inc alum Jennifer Love Hewitt), Everwood, The Nine, and V.

Watch for the guy in the varsity jacket. (The quality isn't great, but this is the only song from Scott's episode, "Double Trouble" in season 7, on YouTube.)

9. Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen is best known as Chunk from The Goonies ("Truffle shuffle!"), but in 1984, the year before The Goonies came out, he was the guest star of the fifth episode, "The Joker," of Kids Incorporated's first season. Jeff played a practical joker who wanted to be friends with the Kids. Since The Goonies, he had small roles on a few other TV shows and made-for-TV movies, but his main focus has been on his education and his career. Today, he's an entertainment lawyer and was named one of "Hollywood's Top 35 Executives 35 and Under" by The Hollywood Reporter.

This is the full season 1 episode guest-starring Jeff as "the joker."

10. Billy Blanks

The inventor of Tae Bo, Billy Blanks has practiced martial arts since the age of 11. In the '80s, he broke into acting with several (not very successful) action-adventure films. In the final episode of season 6 of Kids Inc., Billy teaches karate to Robin (Jennifer Love Hewitt's character), who's being bullied. Since 1989, Billy has grown his Tae Bo empire and continued to appear in action movies.

In "Karate Kids," episode 15 of season 6, Billy teaches Robin karate. (The episode isn't available on YouTube as one continuous video.)

New Plant-Based Coating Can Keep Your Avocados Fresh for Twice as Long

Thanks to a food technology startup called Apeel Sciences, eating fresh avocados will soon be a lot easier. The Bill Gates–backed company has developed a coating designed to keep avocados fresh for up to twice as long as traditional fruit, Bloomberg reports, and these long-lasting avocados will soon be available at 100 grocery stores across the Midwestern U.S. Thirty or so of the grocery stores involved in the limited rollout of the Apeel avocado will be Costcos, so feel free to buy in bulk.

Getting an avocado to a U.S. grocery store is more complicated than it sounds; the majority of avocados sold in the U.S. come from California or Mexico, making it tricky to get fruit to the Midwest or New England at just the right moment in an avocado’s life cycle.

Apeel’s coating is made of plant material—lipids and glycerolipids derived from peels, seeds, and pulp—that acts as an extra layer of protective peel on the fruit, keeping water in and oxygen out, and thus reducing spoilage. (Oxidation is the reason that your sliced avocados and apples brown after they’ve been exposed to the air for a while.) The tasteless coating comes in a powder that fruit producers mix with water and then dip their fruit into.

A side-by-side comparison of a coated and uncoated avocado after 30 days, with the uncoated avocado looking spoiled and the coated one looking fresh

According to Apeel, coating a piece of produce in this way can keep it fresh for two to three times longer than normal without any sort of refrigeration of preservatives. This not only allows consumers a few more days to make use of their produce before it goes bad, reducing food waste, but can allow producers to ship their goods to farther-away markets without refrigeration.

Avocados are the first of Apeel's fruits to make it to market, but there are plans to debut other Apeel-coated produce varieties in the future. The company has tested its technology on apples, artichokes, mangos, and several other fruits and vegetables.

[h/t Bloomberg]

The Curious Origins of 16 Common Phrases

Our favorite basketball writer is ESPN's Zach Lowe. On his podcast, the conversation often takes detours into the origins of certain phrases. We compiled a list from Zach and added a few of our own, then sent them to language expert Arika Okrent. Where do these expressions come from anyway?


Bus token? Game token? What kind of token is involved here? Token is a very old word, referring to something that’s a symbol or sign of something else. It could be a pat on the back as a token, or sign, of friendship, or a marked piece of lead that could be exchanged for money. It came to mean a fact or piece of evidence that could be used as proof. “By the same token” first meant, basically “those things you used to prove that can also be used to prove this.” It was later weakened into the expression that just says “these two things are somehow associated.”


1944: A woman standing on a soapbox speaking into a mic
Express/Express/Getty Images

The soapbox that people mount when they “get on a soapbox” is actually a soap box, or rather, one of the big crates that used to hold shipments of soap in the late 1800s. Would-be motivators of crowds would use them to stand on as makeshift podiums to make proclamations, speeches, or sales pitches. The soap box then became a metaphor for spontaneous speech making or getting on a roll about a favorite topic.


The notion of Tom fool goes a long way. It was the term for a foolish person as long ago as the Middle Ages (Thomas fatuus in Latin). Much in the way the names in the expression Tom, Dick, and Harry are used to mean “some generic guys,” Tom fool was the generic fool, with the added implication that he was a particularly absurd one. So the word tomfoolery suggested an incidence of foolishness that went a bit beyond mere foolery.


chimp eating banana

The expression “go bananas” is slang, and the origin is a bit harder to pin down. It became popular in the 1950s, around the same time as “go ape,” so there may have been some association between apes, bananas, and crazy behavior. Also, banana is just a funny-sounding word. In the 1920s people said “banana oil!” to mean “nonsense!”


If something is run of the mill, it’s average, ordinary, nothing special. But what does it have to do with milling? It most likely originally referred to a run from a textile mill. It’s the stuff that’s just been manufactured, before it’s been decorated or embellished. There were related phrases like “run of the mine,” for chunks of coal that hadn’t been sorted by size yet, and “run of the kiln,” for bricks as they came out without being sorted for quality yet.


The Law's Delay: Reading The Riot Act 1820
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When you read someone the riot act you give a stern warning, but what is it that you would you have been reading? The Riot Act was a British law passed in 1714 to prevent riots. It went into effect only when read aloud by an official. If too many people were gathering and looking ready for trouble, an officer would let them know that if they didn’t disperse, they would face punishment.


Hands down comes from horse racing, where, if you’re way ahead of everyone else, you can relax your grip on the reins and let your hands down. When you win hands down, you win easily.


The silver lining is the optimistic part of what might otherwise be gloomy. The expression can be traced back directly to a line from Milton about a dark cloud revealing a silver lining, or halo of bright sun behind the gloom. The idea became part of literature and part of the culture, giving us the proverb “every cloud has a silver lining” in the mid-1800s.


The expression “you’ve got your work cut out for you” comes from tailoring. To do a big sewing job, all the pieces of fabric are cut out before they get sewn together. It seems like if your work has been cut for you, it should make job easier, but we don’t use the expression that way. The image is more that your task is well defined and ready to be tackled, but all the difficult parts are yours to get to. That big pile of cut-outs isn’t going to sew itself together!


A grapevine is a system of twisty tendrils going from cluster to cluster. The communication grapevine was first mentioned in 1850s, the telegraph era. Where the telegraph was a straight line of communication from one person to another, the “grapevine telegraph” was a message passed from person to person, with some likely twists along the way.


The earliest uses of shebang were during the Civil War era, referring to a hut, shed, or cluster of bushes where you’re staying. Some officers wrote home about “running the shebang,” meaning the encampment. The origin of the word is obscure, but because it also applied to a tavern or drinking place, it may go back to the Irish word shebeen for a ramshackle drinking establishment.


Pushing the envelope belongs to the modern era of the airplane. The “flight envelope” is a term from aeronautics meaning the boundary or limit of performance of a flight object. The envelope can be described in terms of mathematical curves based on things like speed, thrust, and atmosphere. You push it as far as you can in order to discover what the limits are. Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff brought the expression into wider use.


We say someone can’t hold a candle to someone else when their skills don’t even come close to being as good. In other words, that person isn’t even good enough to hold up a candle so that a talented person can see what they’re doing in order to work. Holding the candle to light a workspace would have been the job of an assistant, so it’s a way of saying not even fit to be the assistant, much less the artist.


Most acids dissolve other metals much more quickly than gold, so using acid on a metallic substance became a way for gold prospectors to see if it contained gold. If you pass the acid test, you didn’t dissolve—you’re the real thing.


What kind of wire is haywire? Just what it says—a wire for baling hay. In addition to tying up bundles, haywire was used to fix and hold things together in a makeshift way, so a dumpy, patched-up place came to be referred to as “a hay-wire outfit.” It then became a term for any kind of malfunctioning thing. The fact that the wire itself got easily tangled when unspooled contributed to the “messed up” sense of the word.


Carpet used to mean a thick cloth that could be placed in a range of places: on the floor, on the bed, on a table. The floor carpet is the one we use most now, so the image most people associate with this phrase is one where a servant or employee is called from plainer, carpetless room to the fancier, carpeted part of the house. But it actually goes back to the tablecloth meaning. When there was an issue up for discussion by some kind of official council it was “on the carpet.”


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