In 1989 the fledgling Fox Network debuted cartoonist Matt Groening's animated prime-time sitcom, "The Simpsons." It was the only prime-time cartoon to appear since "The Flintstones" first aired in 1960. By the end of the century, "The Simpsons" would become the longest-running prime-time cartoon in history. The show satirized contemporary American culture and lampooned conventional social values by chronicling the misadventures of Homer Simpson and his family. Not only did the show define the cynical edge of prime-time television in the early 1990s, it also spawned a whole range of merchandising. During the first season, Fox reportedly signed over 100 licensing agreements that raked in a whopping $750 million. By the mid-1990s, Simpsons merchandise had become one of the biggest earners in the business, reaching $3.5 billion worldwide in 1996. While much of the merchandise consisted of inexpensive T-shirts, dolls, and bumper stickers, the Franklin Mint created a series of six commemorative plates to cash in on the show's adult audience. Not the typical children's fare, these limited-edition, gold-bordered plates were clearly intended for a more established, middle-class audience that valued collectible china.