Friday, January 21, 2011

Killing Cookie Monster...A Necessary Murder

"Cookie Monster is going to be called Veggie Monster from now on."

"No!" I protest.  "They can't change my beloved childhood memory.  Those letter cookies are like comfort food to me."

I guess that's the point though.  Those cookies are too much anymore.  We've all held on to those cookies, devouring them because we can, sharing the sugary sweetness with smiles and laughter. Things need to change because the scales have tipped...literally.

So, I had accepted Cookie Monster's fate, and headed to Sesame Street Live yesterday with Little Sprout curious about how they'd change things. 

The title of the show:  Elmo's Healthy Heroes and in true Sesame Street fashion, the writing was witty, the songs were entertaining, and the message was positive. Eat well, rest often, exercise regularly and stay up on hygiene.  Cookie Monster even conceded that having an occasional cookie is okay, but that eating the colors of the vegetables and fruits was even better.  Balance, discipline and good choices. 

"Awesome message!" I thought.

And happened.

The intermission that changed everything for me.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the show, the lights came up, the curtains closed and an announcement was made that there would be a short break.

Bunches of helium-filled Elmo heads made their way to the floor of the arena and the food carts emerged.  Children were heard begging their parents for something, and that is exactly what the producers intended.  What I could not believe was the rate with which the parents shelled out money for food and snacks, hungry to consume, but oblivious to the fact that they were discounting everything that had just been said.

The snacks offered:  blue and pink cotton candy, bags of greasy mini-donuts, colored slushies and enormous glasses of sugary lemonade.  Had I gone up to the concourse I could have gotten a large bag of salty popcorn, or processed nachos or a concession pretzel. Candy and cookies were up there too.

I was dumbfounded.  My pissed off five-year-old didn't understand why I stood there in personal protest refusing to buy any treat.  I eventually broke down because my daughter reminded me I had promised her something. I got an $8 lemonade and was immediately relieved it was more watered down than sugary.

I'm still fired up, and unsure about what to do.  I am fired up to eat better, to move more, to rest often, but I think the overall options need to change.  People will continue to eat what's in front of them, so what's presented to them needs to be different. 

Who is going to step up to make the message meaningful?  When is cutting down the size of people's bottoms going to mean more than the bottom line?

Just like everyone else, I want to resist changing Cookie Monster to Veggie Monster, because change is uncomfortable.  But a nationwide epidemic of obesity is terrifying, and we should all start making celery stick at a time.


  1. Wow. That's just wrong. If they're going to sing about eating healthy, they might as well serve healthy food! Kids would still have begged their parents for a $2 banana or over-priced fruit snacks.


  2. It's easy for them to preach but when it comes to money and actions, I suppose they know in the end what the kids want. Its just sad! Good for standing your ground like that.

  3. Good for you to stand your ground! It seems a real easy concept to preach but when it comes to acting on it I suppose money speaks louder than words for them.

  4. That's crazy to have a show all about healthy eating and then offer such abominable "snacks." We need some serious food reform in this country. That's for sure.

  5. Strangely, I don't think it was Cookie Monster making the kids fat. I have more of a problem with what we feed kids in school, and at home ... and that's just it - WE feed our kids. We say yes, or we say no. Not Cookie Monster. At some point we as parents need to take responsibility, and stop bullying Cookie Monster.
    I'm glad you were able to see the irony of what they offered and what they preached. Good on you!
    Next thing you know, they'll have to lynch Veggie monster because he gave our kids E coli. ;)


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