Monday, November 9, 2009

10 Things You Might Not Have Known About Sesame Street

posted by Adam Kertesz

Happy 40th Anniversary, Sesame Street! The timeless classic has helped raise at least 2 generations of children. I don't think there is a single person above the age of 4 who hasn't laughed and sang along with their 'friends' Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster, The Count, Oscar the Grouch (for some reason my favourite when I was a kid!), Elmo and Ernie and Bert!

Based on a list of found on the Sesame Workshop website, I have narrowed a list of 40 items down to 10 interesting things you might not have known about Sesame Street.

In no particular order:

1. Four First Ladies have visited Sesame Street: Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.

2. Although Big Bird is a curious 6-year old and Oscar is a Grouch, the two are identical on the inside. At age 75, Carroll Spinney has been both characters since 1969.

3. Why the name Sesame Street? After a long search for a catchy name, one of the show’s writers suggested “Sesame Street.” The word “sesame,” an allusion to the fabled command from The Arabian Nights, “Open, Sesame!,” suggested excitement and adventure. Since the show was set in an urban street scene, “Sesame Street” seemed an ideal combination.

4. Elmo began his life on Sesame Street as a nameless Anything Muppet™, before becoming the 3 ½ year-old furry red monster that has tickled millions of children of all ages. Kevin Clash first donned Elmo in 1984. 25 years later, Elmo is still 3 ½ years-old.

5. James Earl Jones was the first celebrity to appear on Sesame Street.

6. Oscar was just as grouchy in 1969 as he is today. His first words on the show were “Don’t bang on my can! Go away.”

7. Oscar the Grouch was the color orange in season 1.

8. Sesame Street has won 118 Emmys to date. The most for any television show in history.

9. All of the Sesame Street Muppets™ have four fingers, except Cookie Monster, who has five.

10. As a nonprofit, product proceeds and philanthropic donations support Sesame Workshop’s educational research and creative content for children around the world.

By the way, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the incredible educational tool that Sesame Street prides itself as, even after 40 years on TV. According to this article,

Sesame Street recognized the power of the relatively new medium of television as a learning tool, with teachers and education researchers helping to create strategies for its on-air content.
"It's still the gold standard in children's television for its use of research and work with real children," says Dr. Cynthia Schiebe, a New York-based developmental psychologist who specializes in media literacy. Henson and company made perhaps their most important breakthrough by making Sesame Street fun and smart, allowing all the lessons to flow from that.

And finally, just a quick personal story as well:
When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my family visited New York for a family function. As we walked around New York City, I noticed that the city had those metal garbage cans like Oscar lived in! According to my parents, as we walked through the city, I stopped at each and every garbage can and lifted the lid to see if Oscar was there. Sadly, I never found him. (By the way, I was a very happy and fun loving kid, so I have no idea where my love for Oscar came from!)


  1. Who didn't love Oscar the grouch. Does anyone here remember Forgetful Jones :D.

    A fun fact. I learned to tie my shoes at the age of 4 from Sesame street. It was the scene where the child had thier shoe tied while they were sitting on the wall.

  2. That was awesome! I love Telly. He is purple, fun and so absent-minded! Thanks for the 10 facts Adam!


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