EDITORIAL – He is cool, he is blue, and he thinks that eating to excess is fun. He is the lovable monster raining a chocolate-chip torrent of death upon our children. Through the innocent guise of teaching kids to spell, Cookie Monster is an American icon for the complete loss of dietary sanity – a fuzzy standard-bearer in our nation’s march toward monstrous waistlines.
Despite half-hearted attempts to tone down his overt fat endorsement with statements such as “Cookies are a ‘sometimes’ food,” this monster’s message is clear: high calorie, low nutrition foods are scrumptious, and a body-mass index in the super-morbid range is a worthy aspiration. Children watch mesmerized as Cookie Monster, completely immune to any consequences, gorges himself on a circular staple of empty calories. Despite more than 40 years of terrible eating on Sesame Street, Cookie Monster’s size has never changed, and he has never faced the cruel aftermath of his indulgence. What message are we feeding our children?
The impact of this puppet’s force-feeding of our nation (Fig. 1) is obvious. Since his arrival in the 70’s, we have been powerless to resist the cookie.
Years ago, there was a similarly alluring character pushing a similarly unhealthy habit on America’s children. His name was “Joe Camel” and the leather jacket and shades told kids one thing: smoking Camel cigarettes makes you a USDA, Grade-A, Prime Choice Rebel-of-Awesome-Badness. In the same way, Cookie monster, with his voracity for baked goods and utter disdain for correct pronoun usage, is seductively luring our babies toward a premature death from obesity-related illness.
Sesame Street has feigned efforts to change the message, but it’s not enough for the Cookie Monster to say that “Cookies are a Sometimes Food;” he must prove it with his actions. Just like the cartoon camel on cigarette packs is being replaced with pictures of emphysema patients, we must replace the cookie-binge message with pictures of Cookie Monster in a motorized wheelchair, Cookie Monster having his first heart attack, and Cookie Monster being told he has Type 2 Diabetes. What if Sesame Street featured a song called “C is for Cookie AND Coronary Artery Disease?”
Why must we do this? Because, ultimately, how can a parent be expected to teach healthy eating habits day-in and day-out at the dinner table when a huggably rotund blue puppet is touting the benefits of binge eating for 3 minutes every day? Kids will make their own choices at the pantry and parents are left powerless to change them. Once they’ve been proselytized by Cookie Monster, what mom or dad has the fortitude to deny their prince or princess the sweet cookie madness they crave? We need to stop wasting our time worrying about what we buy at the grocery store and start rallying our forces to shut down the murderous monster in our living rooms. Cookie Monster is the problem, not us.
If we don’t end the assault on our children, this is the disgusting future that awaits…
Edna Blachenstort – Chairwoman, United Parents Teaching Toddlers Responsibility, UPTTR
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