The company name is ironic since the word acme is derived from Greek (ακμή; English transliteration: acmē) meaning the peak, zenith or prime, and products from the fictional Acme Corporation are both generic and tend to fail.
One of the first appearances of the Acme Corporation was in Harold Lloyd's silent film "Grandma's Boy" in 1922 where a tramp robs a shop called "Acme Jewelery Co." References to Acme Corporation can also be found in other Lloyd movies like Safety Last (1923) and Girl Shy (1924). The first reference to Acme Corporation in a cartoon was in the Buddy cartoon (Buddy's Bug Hunt). It also appeared in the Egghead cartoon Count Me Out in which Egghead purchases a "Learn How To Box" kit from Acme. In the Road Runner cartoon Beep, Beep, it was referred as "Acme Rocket-Powered Products, Inc." based in Fairfield, New Jersey.
The company is never clearly defined but appears to be a conglomerate which produces every type of product imaginable, no matter how elaborate or extravagant - none of which ever work as desired or expected. An example is the Acme Giant Rubber Band, subtitled "(For Tripping Road Runners)", which appears to be produced specifically for Wile E. Coyote. Further proof of Acme's inferior products is shown in a commercial for a Batman suit that Wile E. Coyote previously purchased. Acme states the suit is guaranteed "for the life of the user."
While their products leave much to be desired, Acme delivery service is second to none; Wile E. can merely drop an order into a mailbox (or enter an order on a website, as in the Looney Tunes: Back in Action movie), and have the product in his hands within seconds.
One exception was the car in the 1953 Looney Tunes cartoon, Bugs and Thugs, which worked perfectly until Bugs Bunny lured the robbers onto a railroad crossing when a train was coming. Bugs described the car earlier to the police as a " '52 Acme - straight eight - overhead valves - with California license plates!" As Bugs was shown repairing the car after the train wreck, it was shown with a front disc brake, 20 years before they were commonly available on American cars.
Real usageEditThe name Acme became popular for businesses by the 1920s, when alphabetized business telephone directories such as the Yellow Pages began to be widespread. There were a flood of businesses named Acme (some of these still survive). For example, early Sears catalogs contained a number of products with the "Acme" trademark, including anvils, which are frequently used in Warner Bros. cartoons.
Perhaps coincidentally, "Acme" is a standard of registration pins on animation discs, on which the cartoons are created. Acme registration is the mainstream standard of pins and holes that allow animation cels to be consistently aligned. (An alternative registration is Oxberry (or Oxbury) standard.)
The name "Acme" is used as a generic corporate name in a huge number of cartoons, comics, television shows (as early as an I Love Lucy episode), film (as early as 1930 in the Wheeler and Woolsey comedy Hook, Line and Sinker, when a gangster's suitcase falls open to reveal a tommy gun with the logo "Acme Machine Gun Company" ) and other media.
They are far too numerous to list. Examples which specifically reference the Wile E. Coyote meme include:
Animated films, TV seriesEdit
- The Tiny Toons Adventures series expanded on Acme's influence, with the entire setting of the show taking place in a city called "Acme Acres". The show's young protagonists attended "Acme Looniversity." Calamity Coyote often bought products from the fictional Acme company in his quest to catch the road-runner Little Beeper. In one episode, the company revealed its slogan: "For fifty years, the leader in creative mayhem."
- In an episode of The Fairly Odd Parents called, "The New Squid In Town" Timmy Turner delivered Mark Chang's disguise belt to his (Timmy's) school teacher, Mr. Crocker. Next to the belt was a crudely-made sign that says, "Acme Fairy-hunting Belt".
- The 2003 movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action showed the head offices of Acme, revealed to be a multinational corporation whose executive officers were led by a supervillain called "Mr. Chairman".
- The cartoon series, Loonatics Unleashed, is set in Acmetropolis.
- The Acme Company appeared in three Woody Woodpecker cartoons
- In Family Guy, Peter is seen running an Acme store and Wile E. Coyote is seen talking to him.
- In The Pink Panther Show, for example in episode "Pink Pest Control" when Pink Panther fixes a steel door.
- In Wakko's Wish, the Animaniacs feature film, the Warner Brothers and the other characters live in the village of Acme Falls.
Live-action films, TV seriesEdit
- In Return of the Pink Panther (1975), Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau drives into a pool; the van he drives shows "Acme Pool Service".
- The 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit attempted to explain Acme's inner workings in detail. The movie's plot is centered on the murder of the founder of Acme Incorporated. Many of the film's scenes involve Acme products, and the climactic scene of the film is set in the Acme factory.
- In the movie "Armageddon" (1998), a reference is made to Coyote's failed attempts to catch the Road Runner with an Acme rocket.
- The episode "Revenging Angel" of the Australian science-fiction series "Farscape" involves a hallucination experienced by an unconscious John Crichton in which he is cartoonized and running from a cartoon D'Argo, the latter of which takes on a Wile E. Coyote role, using defective products from a company called "OZME", a blatant parody of "ACME".
- In the television show "Two And A Half Men, one of the characters Rose, purchases mannequins from Acme
- Bell X1's song "One Stringed Harp" includes the lyric "Like Wile E. Coyote/As if the fall wasn't enough/Those bastards from Acme/They got more nasty stuff".
- Ian Frazier wrote a fictional opening statement as a humor article in The New Yorker Magazine (v66, Feb 26, 1990, p. 42) in the form of a lawsuit by Wile E. Coyote against the Acme Products Company. The piece is the title work of his collection, Coyote v. Acme (New York: Noonday Press) 1997 ISBN 0-374-52491-2; ISBN 978-0-374-52491-3.