Yesterday on The View, the ladies thought it was absurd that the Cookie Monster would be appearing in a Healthy Eating PSA with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack . The PSA was produced with Sesame Workshop and features Cookie Monster, Vilsack and Broccoli talking about the importance of eating a “rainbow” of foods (especially fruits and vegetables) everyday. What’s wrong with that?
When PBS announced first announced it would be making some changes in its 35th season of Sesame Street in 2006, many people rushed to criticize. The thing that raised the greatest alarm was that the Cookie Monster would now advocate healthier eating. This is association between the Cookie Monster and healthier eating isn’t exactly news.
So many of us have grown up on Sesame Street that we feel we know the Cookie Monster and his now famous song “C is for Cookie, That’s Good Enough for Me.” There is no need to panic, however. That song won’t change, nor will the Cookie Monster character. Sesame Street emphasizes “Healthy Habits for Life” in an effort to combat soaring childhood obesity rates. The Cookie Monster simply eats fewer cookies and along with the rest of the monsters on the show and the millions of children watching at home, will learn about healthy foods and physical activity.
He does have another song now too. “A Cookie is a Sometimes Food” will help illustrate that there is a difference between a “sometimes” food and an “anytime” food. Talking vegetables and guest stars are also involved in the new healthy themes. This is something that will benefit both children and even many parents.
Rather than rush to criticize, tune in and realize that Sesame Street is doing exactly what it has done to be so successful over the past 39 years, it is changing to best reach today’s children. Without this modernization, Sesame Street would just be an old relic. I look forward to these and other changes.
Most adults do fear change. One of Sesame Street’s goals has been to help children adjust to unavoidable and sometimes upsetting changes. When the actor (Will Lee) who played Mr. Hooper died in 1982, a Sesame Street episode delicately and honestly addressed the fact that that Mr. Hooper would not be coming back. Like real family members who die, he was not replaced by another character or forgotten. His store remains and Big Bird still has a picture of him above his nest. After 9/11, Sesame Street focused an episode on overcoming loss. A grease fire at Hooper’s Store addressed fear. Firefighters rushed in to save the store and Elmo learned a great deal about the admirable work firefighters perform.
Childhood obesity is a serious issue and we should applaud the producers for addressing it. Times evolve and the show must evolve with it. Thank you Sesame Street for remembering your audience and for not taking us for granted.