Monster Diet

Cookie Monster, pre-diet - image downloaded from internet

I see on the news this morning that the Cookie Monster on "Sesame Street" is on a diet. Instead of having a cookie every day, he's down to one a week.

We mustn't think Cookie's limiting himself. He represents the pleasure principle - raw unbridled desire. He portrays the propensity in every child to want what he wants when he wants it. I remember a story about the time the Cookie Monster went on a quest for a magic cookie that would bring its finder everlasting joy and happiness. The catch was he couldn't eat the cookie; he had to keep it as a sort of good luck charm. "Should I have everlasting joy and happiness, or should I eat cookie?" he asked himself. His indecision lasted for about a second. "EAT COOKIE," he cried.

Children laughed, parents laughed - no one expected Cookie to resist instant gratification. We'd have been disappointed if he showed restraint. I'm disappointed now - not in the shaggy blue Muppet, but in the producers and writers who are afraid they might make a child think that a cookie tastes better than a spear of broccoli.

Cookie Monster allows children to giggle at a human frailty, as does Oscar the Grouch. Next they'll have Oscar saying kind things so the children won't think it's OK to be in a bad mood.

In my pre-Sesame youth I liked a program called "Time for Beanie," which featured a lion named Mouth-full-of-Teeth Keith. He was a health nut and said such things as "Exercise and yogurt - cleans out your
pipes." We didn't know what yogurt was, except that it was health food. He had the cast of "Time for Beanie" running cross-country. No one ever heard of jogging in those innocent times. We thought Keith was silly. I blame "Time for Beanie" for making fun of a healthy lifestyle and thus causing my first heart attack, but I don't know who to sue.