In news that threatens to sully the dignity of the farting hippo industry, CBS is facing a lawsuit over the marketing of, as The Wrap notes, the “farting hippo from NCIS.” Rather than a particularly nasty way of describing Mark Harmon, the “farting hippo” in question here is Bert The Farting Hippo, a hippopotamus puppet first glimpsed on the show in 2003 that’s since gone on to become a fan favorite, inspiring disturbing lists and even songs in his honor. Naturally, CBS sought to capitalize on Bert’s popularity by offering official Bert The Farting Hippo merchandise in its online store, for all the discerning fans of a procedural about boats or whatever.
Unfortunately, as with so many of our once-proud American businesses, CBS sought to outsource the manufacture of farting hippos to China. The original manufacturer of the Bert puppet, Massachusetts-based Folkmanis Inc., was originally all to happy to collaborate with CBS to develop an updated version of Bert—whose farts were dubbed in on the show for CBS-version-of-comical effect—that boasted a squeezable fart-box. It produced some 30,000 farting hippos for CBS, as well as a keychain for today’s farting hippo fan on the go; for a brief while, all were as happy as a hippopotamus unburdened of his flatulence. But soon enough, these happy hippo farts were tainted by impurity.
Deliver Agency Inc., operator of CBS’s online store, allegedly sought out the services of Shanghai Orlind Toy Co. to produce a cheaper, Chinese brand of hippo farts, of the sort previously known only to patrons of Panda Express. And Folkmanis’ lawsuit claims that their collusion on these cheap replicas of their heritage farting hippo cost them an estimated $733,000 in lost profits—a figure that includes the many Bert The Farting Hippo shirts, slippers, metal signs, and phone covers sold to fans who are no doubt already being mocked in the street for having the knockoff version.
Also included in that assortment was this Bert The Farting Hippo costume (captured by Uproxx), which this lawsuit has now assuredly rendered too embarrassing to wear.
While the lawsuit is pending, all Bert The Farting Hippo merchandise has apparently been pulled from the CBS store. In the meantime, those patriots who wish to own one will just have to make their own farting hippos, like our fathers did. Perhaps together, we can put this country back on track.