Extreme Makeover – Kids Edition:
A Cookie is a Sometimes Food? Sesame Street Re-packages its Beloved Cookie Monster
What is wrong with America these days? Must we be soooooooo PC that even Sesame Street’s beloved blue furry Cookie Monster needs to be harnessed in and white-washed like so much else in our culture (or now lack thereof)? Yes, it is sad but true. When Sesame Street opens its 36th season, Cookie Monster is going to learn some lessons about moderation and will now advocate eating healthy. Get this – his “C is for cookie” song has been replaced with a new song — “A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food.” That’s right, the Muppet who once sang, “C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me,” is advocating eating a healthful diet and learns there are “anytime” foods and “sometimes” foods.
According to Rosemarie Truglio, the show’s vice president of research and education, the focus of “Sesame Street” changes every year. This year, the show will focus not just on teaching numbers and letters but also on emotional and physical health. With the rise in childhood obesity, Truglio said “Sesame Street” is concentrating on the need to teach children about healthful foods and physical activity. This season, each episode opens with a “health tip” about nutrition, exercise, hygiene and rest. That will not go very far in my house.
“It’s not a perfect solution. It’s a ‘Sesame’ solution,” admits “Sesame Street” executive producer Lewis Bernstein. “When we sat down to do the new curriculum, we thought, ‘what are we going to do with (Cookie Monster) in health?’ We are aware that children eat cookies. We’ve got a Cookie Monster. He’s not going to become a Carrot Monster. We’re not trying to get children to not eat cookies, but to eat other things, too.”
And, in fairness to Bernstein, Cookie Monster will still get to eat cookies sometimes (remember, they’re a sometimes food), including the Letter of the Day segment where poor Prairie Dawn habitually watches in dismay as Cookie Monster devours both the Letter and the cookie it’s stamped on.
Now don’t misunderstand me, I am all about healthful eating and lifestyles. With childhood obesity rates soaring, something clearly needs to be done with our super-sized nation. Personally, I exercise 4-5 times a week in my own make-shift home gym, a lot of times with my kids present and watching what I am doing. I am careful about what I eat and try to purchase and serve healthy foods. My kids watch what I eat, purchase and serve. What I don’t do is preach to my kids about a healthy lifestyle and that they watch what they eat. Anyone who knows kids knows that is about as effective as putting a steak in front of a dog and asking the dog to not eat it. Kids learn best by the examples we as parents and family set everyday, year after year, as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
Sesame Street certainly has a great idea about teaching these healthy lifestyle concepts to children and hopefully, the Sesame Street characters will be heard by our kids. But this cannot be the only voice they hear or examples they see. And someone needs to say that to our coach potato nation.