12 Fascinating Facts About Sesame Street You Never Knew as a Kid 

Matt Manser
Updated May 20, 2020 54.2k views 12 items

If you have kids, grandkids, or even if you simply were a kid at one point yourself, chances are you've seen a lot of Sesame Street in your lifetime. You may even consider yourself an expert on the show. But do you know all these facts about Sesame Street?

Sesame Street began in 1969 on NET (and later PBS), and quickly became a hit thanks to its mix of silly characters and actual education. According to their website, "The series was designed to use television to teach preschoolers, and give them skills that would ensure a successful transition from home to school. The show gave children a head start, and aimed to provide them with the confidence to learn the alphabet, numbers, and social skills."

The show is now in its 46th season, and these days it airs first on HBO. That much you may already know. You might also know other Sesame Street trivia, like how they did an episode about the death of Mr. Hooper, or that Cookie Monster's real name is Sid. But here are some Sesame Street stories that will tell you even more about the iconic kids show. (But, unfortunately, we are still unable to tell you exactly how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.)

Michael Jackson Saved Sesame Street from a Lawsuit
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After a sketch featuring a parody of he Beatles ″Let It Be″ called ″Letter B,″ Sesame Street was sued by the owners of the music at the time, Northern Songs. Shortly after the suit was filed, Northern Songs was purchased by Michael Jackson. Michael had no interest in bankrupting Sesame Street over the parody, so the lawsuit was settled for just $50.

There's a Reason Snuffy Stopped Being Imaginary
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When Snuffleupagus was first introduced to Sesame Street in 1971, only Big Bird could see him. Big Bird would tell the other characters about his pal Snuffy, but they would always just miss him. This raised many questions, such as, Is Snuffy real? Is he imaginary? Or maybe Big Bird has some sort of sixth sense?

But in 1985, Snuffy was finally allowed to be seen by the rest of the gang on Sesame Street. The reason? Child abuse. Producers were becoming more aware of child abuse cases, and wanted to make sure children felt like they could be believed when they had something to say.

“The fear was that if we represented adults not believing what kids said, they might not be motivated to tell the truth,” said producer Carol-Lynn Parente. “That caused us to rethink the storyline: Is something we’ve been doing for 14 years - that seemed innocent enough - now something that’s become harmful?”

Cookie Monster Was Originally "The Wheel-Stealer”
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In 1966, Jim Henson produced a commercial for General Foods snacks, including a cheese-flavored snack called “wheels.” The commercial stated that if you have wheels in your house, they might get gobbled up by a wheel-stealer. But when you see the wheel-Stealer in the ad, there's no doubt about it - that's the Cookie Monster.

The commercial never actually aired, but the puppet was used again in an IBM training video in 1967, and once more in a 1969 Fritos ad. Eventually he made his way to Sesame Street, where he moved away from salty snacks to focus almost exclusively on sweets.

Little Kids Believe in Elmo - Even After Seeing the Puppeteer Behind Him
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In show biz, sometimes you have to accept some bit parts before you make it big, and Elmo was no exception. The Elmo puppet was initially called “Baby Monster,” who had a deep voice and was rarely used. Then one day, Muppeteer Kevin Clash found the puppet, gave it a childlike falsetto, and it clicked.

Clash explained,

The research department goes out and watches the show with kids... and Elmo just hit the charts as far as them really connecting to the little red monster. And not only laughing with him and enjoying him - but also learning what they're supposed to be learning from the specific curriculum that was in the scripts with him.

Clash said that when kids would visit the Sesame Street set, they don't mind seeing that their favorite Muppets are being controlled by a human being.

“They really don't look at me when they see Elmo,” he said. “They run to Elmo because it's a friend of theirs that they've been talking to and communicating with and singing with for so many years.”