|PERFORMER||Frank Oz 1969-present|
|David Rudman 2001-present|
|DESIGN||Jim Henson designer|
|Don Sahlin builder|
Cookie Monster is a voracious monster and one of the main characters on Sesame Street. Covered with blue fur and possessing a pair of googly eyes, Cookie Monster has an insatiable appetite. As his name implies, his primary craving is cookies, but he can (and often does) consume anything and everything, from apples and pie to letters, flatware, and hubcaps. When Cookie Monster eats something, he makes a very distinct, loud munching "noise", often interpreted as "OMM-nom-nom-nom..."
Cookie Monster has a deep, growly voice, and generally speaks with simplistic diction, saying everything with "me" - for instance, "Me want cookie!", as opposed to "I want a cookie!" (though in early seasons, Cookie spoke the other way around, and only occasionally would "me" slip in). Cookie occasionally displays an unexpectedly complex vocabulary, however, and is at his most gentrified when in his Alistair Cookie persona, hosting Monsterpiece Theater.
Jim Henson's Designs and Doodles explains Cookie Monster's early life: "In 1966, Henson drew three monsters who appeared in a General Foods commercial that featured three crunchy snack foods: Wheels, Crowns and Flutes. Each snack was represented by a different monster. The Wheel-Stealer was a short, fuzzy monster with wonky eyes and sharply pointed teeth. The Flute-Snatcher was a speed demon with a long, sharp nose and windblown hair. The Crown-Grabber was a hulk of a monster with a Boris Karloff accent and teeth that resembled giant knitting needles.
"These monsters had insatiable appetites for the snack foods they were named after. Each time the Muppet narrator, a human-looking fellow, fixes himself a tray of Wheels, Flutes and Crowns, they disappear before he can eat them. One by one, the monsters sneak in and zoom away with the snacks. Frustrated and peckish, the narrator warns viewers that these pesky monsters could be disguised as someone in your own home, at which point the monsters briefly turn into people and then dissolve back to monsters again."
As it turns out, the commercial was never aired — but all three monsters had a future in the Muppet cast. The Crown-Grabber was used in an Ed Sullivan Show sketch, in which he ruins a girl's beautiful day. Known from then on as the Beautiful Day Monster, he made a number of appearances on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. The Flute-Snatcher turned into a background monster from The Great Santa Claus Switch and The Muppet Show.
And then there's the Wheel-Stealer, who was destined for greater things.
In 1967, Henson used the Wheel-Stealer puppet for an IBM training film called "The Coffee Break Machine." In the sketch, the monster devoured a complex machine as the machine described its purpose and construction. His greed gets the better of him, however, as the machine's recording continues (within his stomach), announcing that it is wired to self-destruct. The monster promptly explodes. This sketch was also performed in October 1967 on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Two years later, a similar-looking puppet (sans teeth) was used for three commercials selling Munchos, a Frito-Lay potato chip. This time, the monster was called Arnold. After the three ads were produced, Henson had the opportunity to renew the contract. He chose not to, because at that point he was working on Sesame Street -- and that monster puppet was moving on to the next stage in his career.
The monster gained his signature blue fur when he first appeared on Sesame Street as a generic unnamed character with an undefined personality. Early on in the show's first season, he often played the role of a toddler who got in the way of everything without thinking, acting fussy when he didn't get his way, and was scolded whenever he ate Kermit's property during lectures. Ironically, in these early appearances, Cookie seemed somewhat scary to younger viewers, as he personified the childhood fear of "being eaten by a monster."
A defining moment in Cookie's evolution was a skit written by then head-writer Jeff Moss, in which the googly-eyed monster kept nipping at Ernie's milk and cookies. Another breakthrough, according to Jon Stone, was a game show sketch where the winning contestant (who was actually a different furry blue monster) chose a cookie over other luxurious prizes. Ultimately, this craving would be fully integrated into his character (and his name) by the second season. With that, Cookie Monster quickly became one of the most popular and beloved characters on the show. Cookie Monster's theme song, "C is for Cookie," is one of the most famous songs from Sesame Street.
In Sesame Street Magazine issue 144 (May 1985), CTW's associate research director Istar Schwager allayed the fears of some parents about Cookie Monster's bad habits: "Each of the characters on Sesame Street is designed to exaggerate a familiar human foible, and Cookie Monster is babyishness personified... When parents object to Cookie Monster's grammar, we remind them that children learn from a variety of sources -- including other Sesame Street characters who speak properly. Cookie's eating habits, too, are a point of concern for some parents. The inedible things that Cookie eats (a car fender!) make it clear to children that his behavior is out of the ordinary. Other characters, such as Captain Vegetable, of course, are vocal advocates of good eating habits."
When Sesame Street's format changed in 2002, Cookie Monster hosted a regular segment called "Letter of the Day." In each episode he is presented with a cookie, upon which is written the letter of the day, in icing (and later, actual foam letters). Despite his best intentions, and various implausible schemes, he always succumbs to temptation.
To counter concerns that the character encourages poor eating habits, a number of "Healthy Habits for Life" segments and plotlines were introduced in Season 36, in which Cookie encourages viewers to eat a balanced diet, and enjoy cookies as a "sometimes food." However, the idea of Cookie Monster setting a good example for children with respect to their eating habits has been used since the 1970s, with public service announcements and individual sketches (most notably the rap spoof "Healthy Food").
However, the move toward highlighting healthy eating habits in 2005 led to a persistent rumor circulating in the media and on the internet that Cookie Monster would be dropped from the show, or renamed "Veggie Monster." Sesame Street poked fun at the media firestorm in a Season 37 episode. In a sketch in a 2006 episode, Matt Lauer of The Today Show confronts Cookie Monster about the rumors that he's giving up cookies and becoming a "Fruit Monster." Cookie Monster refutes the rumor, explaining that he eats the fruit first, and then has cookies for dessert. Cookie Monster also says that the media is always blowing things out of proportion. (See Is Cookie Monster now the Veggie Monster? for more.)
In a 2004 Sesame Street episode, Cookie Monster revealed in song that before he started eating cookies (and became "Cookie Monster"), he was called Sid. In a 2010 post on the Sesame Street Twitter feed, Cookie Monster tweeted: "Me wasn’t born with name 'Cookie Monster'. It just nickname dat stuck. Me don’t remember me real name... maybe it was Sidney?" Cookie Monster later confirmed this in 2017, in response to a Google question featured in an online video from Wired.
In an interview with NPR, Cookie Monster explained he eats everything, demonstrating by eating his headset and a plate of broccoli. However, upon being served sardine ice cream, he says he draws the line at sardine ice cream. In a later interview, he added that he also drew the line at eating bugs.
Recently, Cookie Monster starred in a series of segments called "Cookie's Crumby Pictures", where he spoofed various movies. Cookie also appears in The Furchester Hotel where he is the head waiter. Currently, Cookie Monster is a part of a crime-fighting team called Smart Cookies.
Cookie Monster has devoured hundreds of cookies in his 40-plus years on Sesame Street. However, the cookies used on the show are not really cookies at all. Prop makers instead used rice crackers, which are painted to resemble cookies instead, as the oils from the actual food would be damaging to the puppet.
On The Furchester Hotel, Cookie Monster's cookies are made from actual cookies, using only certain types of ingredients when baking. They are then painted and colored hot glue globs are used as chocolate chips. For use in the series, they typically bake 200 cookies per week. Approximately, a total of 1500 cookies were baked over the course of the series.
- Jim Henson - in The Ed Sullivan Show and commercials
- Joe Raposo (voice) - in "Everyone Likes Ice Cream"
- Caroll Spinney - in a 1969 sketch in which various monsters whisper the letter C.
- Andy Heath - in episodes of The Furchester Hotel (puppeteer only)
- Cookie Monster appears on episode 518 of The Muppet Show, and there's a gag about how he and guest Marty Feldman both have googly eyes.
- Cookie Monster's birthday is November 2nd.
- In the Ready To Learn parody of Mission: Impossible, Agent Cookie's entire body is shown. Other instances where his feet are shown include The Street We Live On (when he pretends to be a baby), episode 4075 (as he sits on a throne during his story), Abby in Wonderland and several editions of "Cookie's Crumby Pictures."
- For the 2005-2006 season, when the Dutch co-production Sesamstraat received new sets and scenery, Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster and Elmo flew over to Holland for this special occasion. It was the first time the American characters visited the Dutch street.
- In the 1995 video Cookie Monster's Best Bites, it is revealed that the letter C is "the favorite letter of all Cookie Monsters everywhere". However, in a 1976 episode, he claims to be the last Cookie Monster left in the world.
- Cookie Monster appeared in the June 19, 2008 episode of The Colbert Report defending his new position that cookies were a "sometimes food". He ended the episode by eating Stephen Colbert's Peabody Award.
- Unlike most other Muppets of Sesame Street, Cookie Monster has four fingers and a thumb.
- Munchin: Impossible is a proposed spin-off series with the character.
- In A Muppet Family Christmas, Animal observes Cookie Monster eating Janice's cookies in his signature manner, and comments, "That my kinda fella!"
- In response to the Facebook campaign to get the character to host SNL, Cookie was the guest in the monologue with Jeff Bridges. During the monologue, the two sang "Silver Bells".
- In a season one sketch, in which Cookie Monster used Ernie's phone, Cookie Monster referred to himself by the name "Tiny" and also mentions having a brother named Fred. (EKA: Episode 0064)
- Occasionally, Cookie has been referred to as "The Cookie Monster". Some instances include a sketch with Ernie, the book Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree and a season 43 episode.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Borgenicht, David. Sesame Street Unpaved, page 67
- ↑ The New Zealand Herald - A quick word: Cookie Monster
- ↑ From an August 23, 2010 Facebook video 
- ↑ "The secret behind Cookie Monster's cookies", BBC Academy
- ↑ "The Furchester Hotel in numbers", BBC.com Media Centre
- ↑ Sesame Street Muppets Drawing Guide; Nancy W. Stevenson, Illustrator; Sesame Workshop: New York, NY, 2001, p. 7.