My Mom put a lot of effort into raising a well-rounded child. I took piano lessons, worked hard in school, and watched a lot of Spanish Sesame Street. (This was well before the era of Dora the Explorer.)
Yes, I watched Spanish Sesame Street. In case you’re wondering, Spanish Cookie Monster sounds pretty much the same as English Cookie Monster, though ‘me come galleta’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Next to Elmo, Grover, and Big Bird, Cookie Monster is one of the great idols of children’s television. Sesame Street complemented preschool in the molding of young minds, and within the cast of a show that taught children how to share, respect their elders, get along with their siblings, and tell the truth, a cookie-gobbling monster felt increasingly out of place. Faced with the childhood obesity epidemic earning mainstream media attention, Cookie Monster was forced to choose between his favorite snack and his duty to educate the impressionable youngsters.
It seemed the cookies had lost.
Now, Cookie Monster can be seen eating clementines, consorting with talking vegetables, and even learning to resist his cookie cravings.
This was a controversial move to veteran Sesame Street fans, who remember the blue furball’s cookie-scarfing fondly. Some viewers were sad to see a beloved icon undergo such a dramatic rework, one that undermined the foundation of his entire character (I mean, come on. His name is literally the Cookie Monster). More dramatically, some “compared Cookie Monster to historical figures forced to recant their heretical religious beliefs, or celebrity drug defendants sentenced to make anti-drug commercials, and other debatable social experiments” (Hartman, 2011). Rumors circulated that cookie monster would be renamed the ‘veggie’ monster, as did edited images of the cookie monster sporting a green recolor.
Many expressed legitimate concerns over the blue puppet’s sudden character change. K.L. Marsala, for Canada Free Press, expresses the need for health education to come first and foremost from the child’s parents (Hartman, 2011). “If Cookie Monster is going to be the spokesmonster and begin the indoctrination process starting at the age of infancy — what will our poor confused children of the future become?” Marsala wrote. “Will their disorders be starvation related or obesity related? Either way they’re headed for problems.”
Valid as these concerns are, and while it is true that parents must have some responsibility for the habits of their children, Cookie Monster has not forsaken cookies, nor will he be undertaking a juice cleanse anytime soon. The blue, googly-eyed monster loves his favorite chocolatey treat just as much as ever, but unlike before, he now has the willpower to moderate his diet.
Don’t believe me? Just watch Cookie Monster’s interview with Matt Lauer in which he dismisses the rumors that he’s completely sworn off cookies.
Sesame Street has no intention of having the Cookie Monster swear off his favorite treat. Cookie Monster teaches children about the importance of eating from multiple food groups rather than to neglect their cravings and turn their backs on sweets entirely, which has been shown to be destructive.
In an interview with WebMD, Larrian Gillespie explains why this is. “‘It takes a week to lose two pounds,’ she says, ‘yet you can eat [those two pounds] on in a day. If you keep telling yourself not to eat something, you will just get in a cycle of hopelessness and eat things you don’t need'” (Lawrence, Zelman, 2004).
It seems that Cookie Monster has found a happy medium between eating what he wants and eating what his body needs. Personally, I am optimistic that this realization Cookie Monster has made will show children that they’re still allowed to love candy and sweets and ice cream, just as long as you don’t love them to the point of exclusivity. As he now sings, ‘Cookies are a sometimes food.’
And that’s okay.
Hartman, P. (2011, February 23). The Cookie Monster Controversy – Where Do You Stand? Retrieved May 06, 2016, from http://childhoodobesitynews.com/2011/02/23/the-cookie-monster-controversy/
Lawrence, J., Zelman, K. M. (2004, October 18). When It Comes To Sweets, Never Say Never. Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/diet/when-it-comes-to-sweets-never-say-never
Cookie Monster Becomes Veggie Monster. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2016, from http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/veggie.asp
Bernstein, L. (2014, February 28). How Cookie Monster Helps Promote Healthy Eating Habits. Retrieved May 06, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-lewis-bernstein/how-cookie-monster-helps-_b_4874714.html
Carter, C. J. (2005, April 8). Cookie Monster Changes His Tune. Retrieved May 05, 2016, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cookie-monster-changes-his-tune/
Battling The Obesity Crisis With A Ravenous Blue Monster And Singing Vegetables. (n.d.). Retrieved May 06, 2016, from http://www.sesameworkshop.org/what-we-do/our-initiatives/healthy-habits-for-life/