Some time around 1993 at a Nickelodeon research center in New Jersey, Chris Viscardi and Will McRobb were forced to sit behind a sheet of mirrored glass and observe a dozen kids watch their new half-hour TV show "The Adventures of Pete & Pete." Eleven of those kids contorted their faces in such a way that the creators knew what they were thinking -- "This is stupid." But one kid, with rumpled clothes and unkempt hair and food stains on his shirt, was smiling.
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