The point I would like to make today is this: Cookie Monster is still Cookie Monster. Despite rumors to the contrary, he still eats cookies all the time. There is no Veggie Monster, and there has never been a Veggie Monster.
But everyone knows this, right? Surely even the most feeble-minded fool is aware of this fact? You might think so, but you’d be wrong. For proof, just take a gander at Twitter, which is always a good place to find feeble-minded fools. Here are a few tweets about “Veggie Monster,” all from the past few months:
By the way, isn’t it amazing that changing an aspect of Cookie Monster’s character would somehow miraculously, retroactively ruin that first tweeter’s childhood memories? There’s some crazy Inception-style hoodoo going on there. You start out with a fond memory of happily sitting in front of the TV watching Sesame Street on a sunny day and laughing at Cookie Monster’s antics. Then your coworker Cynthia tells you they turned him into Veggie Monster, and suddenly the memory warps and contorts inside the very tissue of your brain, and now all you can recall is being sprawled out on the floor, sobbing, while the pouring rain seeps into your living room and mixes with your tears.
The misinformed tweets cover a range of reactions, from full-fledged freakout…
To complete confusion…
To surprisingly open-armed acceptance.
But the one thing they have in common is that all of them are wrong, and all of them are clearly incapable of using Google. Okay, I guess that’s two things they have in common.
It’s time to settle this once and for all. So here’s all the evidence you need — the next time your friend, or the guy in the next cubicle, or your neighborhood milkman, casually mentions in conversation that it’s too bad Cookie Monster was replaced by Veggie Monster, show them this article. They have to believe it, because it’s on a website with eleven pages of search results for the phrase “Cookie Monster.”
Warning: The following information will be old news to true Sesame Street fans, but is presented here as an important public service to those who fall into the category “People Who Don’t Know Who Murray Monster Is.” So let’s start at the beginning.
This whole fiasco started around the premiere of Sesame Street season 36 in 2005. One of that season’s primary curriculum whatsits was “healthy habits for life,” which was all about encouraging kids to brush their teeth, and get plenty of exercise, and have conversations with floating stalks of broccoli. Sesame Workshop distributed a well-meaning press release for the season, which mentioned “A Cookie Is a Sometime Food.” That was a new song featuring noted jazz musician Hoots the Owl explaining to Cookie Monster why he shouldn’t have Oreos for breakfast. Let’s hear the song now:
I don’t have a copy of that season 36 press release (does anyone reading this have it?), so I can’t quote it directly, but the Cookie Monster stuff really wasn’t presented as a big deal. It was just like, “Hey, this season we’re doing some stuff and some things, and talking about being healthy, and Cookie Monster’s gonna learn about eating good food.” But when the entertainment news media got their hands on it, they latched onto it, exaggerated it, and soon it was being reported that COOKIE MONSTER IS GIVING UP COOKIES FOREVER AND LIFE ON THIS PLANET WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.
The earliest mainstream media piece I’ve found online is from USA Today, from a week before season 36 debuted. It’s full of awesome statistics about childhood obesity, but it also opens by saying of Cookie Monster,“In a fit of drastic behavior modification, the cookie-addicted bundle of fur is declaring that cookies are, in fact, only a ‘sometime food.'” This proves that USA Today has no fact-checking department. It’s Hoots that sings the song! Does Hoots look anything like Cookie Monster to you? He’s not even blue! Not only that, but at the end of the song, Cookie Monster eats cookies.
But it had already started, and the misconception spread across the land like a contagious disease. At some point, the rumor mutated from “Cookie Monster doesn’t eat cookies anymore” to “They’ve changed Cookie Monster to the Veggie Monster,” although I have no idea who first came up with the name “Veggie Monster.” There were a few assorted variations, too, like “Carrot Monster,” “Celery Monster,” and “Field Green Salad With a Low-Fat Vinaigrette Dressing Monster.”
A few media outlets actually tried to do their freaking job as journalists and investigate further. Here’s an article from The Washington Post that quotes Sesame‘s Rosemarie Truglio saying “We are not putting Cookie on a diet” in an attempt to debunk the already widely-disseminated nonsense.
But once a rumor gets out there, it’s nigh-impossible to clear things up. To this day, some people still think Paul from The Wonder Years is now Marilyn Manson, and Mr. Rogers was a drug-dealing sniper (in fact, it was the other way around). If anyone had just bothered to check Snopes, they would have learned the truth:
Sadly, most people didn’t bother. For their part, the Sesame Street people did what they could to clear things up. The following season, they did this segment with Matt Lauer interviewing Cookie Monster about the scandal, and Cookie setting the record straight:
In 2008, the monster appeared on The Colbert Report and insisted that he hadn’t given up cookies:
In a more recent episode, Mario Lopez stumbles upon Cookie Monster right when he happens to be eating carrot sticks, and immediately announces to the TV viewing audience that Cookie Monster is now the Veggie Monster. It’s a pretty hilarious take on how the media made a mountain out of a food pyramid:
The episode’s also includes Cookie Monster’s stirring ballad “Me Am What Me Am”:
So there’s your evidence. Cookie Monster hasn’t abandoned cookies. All that’s happened is he’s come to realize that they’re not the only food he should eat. And that’s not going to destroy anyone’s childhood.
I hear someone in the back of the room say, “But that’s lame too! Until this whole healthy habits thing, Cookie Monster never ate fruit or vegetables!” But guess what? That’s not true either! Here’s Cookie Monster in 1987, rapping about how much he likes healthy food. The song is even called “Healthy Food”:
Cookie Monster is such a dope rapper. He’s right up there with Barney Rubble.
Hold on, that’s not even the earliest example. In this segment from the early 80s (I think), Maria wins over a skeptical Cookie Monster with a party platter of good-and-good-for-you treats:
Little-known fact: When business got slow at the Fix-It Shop, Maria supplemented her income by handing out free food samples at Costco. (JUST KIDDING! I made that up. Don’t go telling all your friends.)
You see? He’s eating cucumbers! Carrot sticks! Apples! And he likes them all! If your friends are still dubious, point out to them that, in these last two clips, Cookie Monster is performed by the bald, mustachioed man himself, Mr. Frank Oz, so there can be no doubt about their legitimacy.
If you need even more evidence, the Muppet Wiki page Is Cookie Monster now the Veggie Monster? has further debunkery, including a quote by Jim Henson (MAYBE YOU’VE HEARD OF HIM?) about Cookie Monster doing PSAs for the Nutrition Council.
And of course, you can always just tell your misguided friend to turn on the TV any day of the week and watch Sesame Street. Cookie Monster doesn’t necessarily appear on the show every day, but when he does, chances are pretty good he’ll be be eating cookies. If they claim they don’t have time to watch the best children’s program on television, just show them last year’s smash hit viral video “Share It Maybe.” That’s all about the monster trying to mooch cookies off his friends, and it seems to have eliminated a lot of the confusion, as it’s obviously a new and official video. With that video continuing to rack up the views on YouTube, I have high hopes that someday we’ll live in a world where this article will no longer be necessary.
Now, I realize some people don’t like articles with too many words in them, so here’s the TL;DR version: There’s no Veggie Monster. Sesame Street did a song where a character told Cookie Monster that he should eat a balanced diet and the media blew it out of proportion. Sesame Street has been showing Cookie Monster eating vegetables (as well as telephones and Volkswagens) for decades, since you were a kid.
There. That should take care of that.
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by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com