The following article was written by Whitney Grace. If you missed her previous installments of “The World of Muppet Crap,” click here to read about officially licensed Skeksis-inspired clothing, an incredibly obscure Muppet kangaroo, official Wilkins and Wontkins merchandise, and more. Thanks for your dedication to weird Muppet stuff, Whitney!
Welcome again to the Wonderful World of Muppet Crap! What do we have today? Take a gander:
It’s a toy Big Bird eggbeater. It’s an eggbeater with a bird as the handle.
Before we confront the absurdity of this tiny tot kitchen accessory, let’s look at the aesthetics. The concept is cute. Big Bird wears an apron, holds a spoon and bowl, and he has a mass-produced grimace on his face like a jailbird mug shot. What is fun is how his feet are the beaters. Big Bird has the most recognizable avian feet on TV and if he wanted to pursue a career as a kitchen utensil, his feet are apt to be eggbeaters.
In an odd way it works. If you look at some of the other Sesame Street toy kitchen sets, you have to admit it is the most original. Big Bird the Colander:
Big Bird salt and pepper shakers (albeit this is cute and Joe should buy this for his kitchen to match those awesome Muppet canisters):
What other characters meet the requirements necessary for being an eggbeater? None. Most of the Sesame Street Muppets don’t have legs, just a puppeteer beneath them. If they do have legs, they are separate entities that exist in a storage compartment in the studio, unless they’re one of those giant walk around puppets from Sesame Street Live. They make neat measuring spoons and cups, though.
In that argument, Big Bird as an eggbeater does make sense. Logically, however, it doesn’t. Big Bird, as we know, is a bird, and is as proud to be a bird as Gladys the Cow is to be a cow. He has bird cousins all over the world and sleeps in a nest. He drinks birdseed milkshakes, takes dust baths, and has a beak and wings. As a bird, he was hatched from an egg. His parentage has been suspect from the start, but he does have Granny Bird for support, as seen in many picture books and Sesame Beginnings.
Don’t you think Big Bird would have a problem stomping on his own kind with his feet? Big Bird is promoting infanticide! We don’t need to get into how touchy a subject that is, but I never thought I’d write a “Sesame Street” and “infanticide” in one sentence. The toy is questionable at best!
According to my research, it was made in 1978 by Wilton. The 1970s were a turbulent time. The USA was still struggling with defining its role on international and homefront levels. Youth wanted to break free of their parents’ World War II shackles (take that, Tom Brokaw). People made bad hair and clothing decisions, especially when “psychedelic” was considered a color. Toys felt these problems too: lawn darts, wood burning kits, science lab kits with dangerous compounds, and no one was forced to wear a helmet.
People weren’t thinking about toy safety, much less the message the toy was sending. In today’s politically correct world, would this toy even make it off the developer’s table? Probably not.
Just imagine you’re a little kid in your play kitchen and you decide it’s time to make cookies. You decide on cookies so you can later share them with Cookie Monster and shove them in your mouth (in a motion that has also drawn complaints). You collect all the ingredients: milk, potatoes, butter, lettuce, hamburger patties, bread, cookies (cookies go in cookies, of course), and whatever other plastic food is stored in your cupboard.
You’re pouring all the ingredients from the bowl into the baking pan, when you realize you forgot the eggs! How can you forget the ingredient that holds everything together? You pour everything back into the bowl and retrieve your Big Bird eggbeater to mix everything together. As you turn the little orange handle, you begin to realize something. Big Bird is a bird, so why would he be on a tool that blends unfertilized bird embryo into a baked good? You drop the eggbeater, scream bloody murder, and then you’re scarred for life. You can never eat cookies again!
What horror! What travesty!
We’ll chalk up the Big Bird eggbeater to someone at Wilton or Sesame not thinking, and maybe drugs. You always hear about drugs in the seventies. Thus the toy design flew the coop and managed to traumatize Big Bird fans decades later.
Should you buy it when it pops up on eBay? It won’t be worth millions, but it is a conversation starter. And at least we’re proud to be cows!
UPDATE: After this article was posted, we received a response from longtime Muppet artist and designer Michael Frith, who shared his thoughts on the Big Bird eggbeater. Click here to read that!
Click here to make like an egg and beat it to the Tough Pigs forum!
by Whitney Grace