AN OPEN LETTER TO THE COOKIE MONSTER
(AND VEGGIE MONSTER)
(AND VEGGIE MONSTER)
I hope it is okay if I call you Cookie; Mr. Monster seems so formal.
I grew up with you and remember thinking your cookie binges were among the Sesame Street’s better bits. My boys didn’t watch much Sesame Street, but I still pay attention to you and the other Muppets because you’ve become so deeply ingrained in modern Americana.
A couple of years ago, there was a big stink made about you changing your name from the Cookie Monster to the Veggie Monster, and changing the focus of your mojo from cookies to veggies. Talk radio loved the topic and people said amusing and terrible things about your bosses at Sesame Street. Many people, including me, derided you and your bosses for wild-eyed political correctness (truth be told, your eyes are pretty wild). A national petition drive protested your conversion, calling it “political correctness gone one step to far.” Many signed a particular version of the petition that specifically denounced your embrace of “the vegan agenda.” The petitioners called for a boycott of Sesame Street.
Until recently, I assumed your conversion was complete. The Cookie Monster—impulsive, tubby and lovable like the rest of us—was dead, replaced by a Veggie Monster alter ego. I called your transformation into the Veggie Monster “the most uncool re-branding in America since New Coke.”
Then a young parent who watches Sesame Street with her child set me straight. You were indeed still the Cookie Monster: You still speak like a caveman and you still gobble down plates of cookies. But you now call cookies a “sometime food” and appear in sketches that remind children about the value of eating other foods, including vegetables.
To quiet the controversy, you made several appearances on television—including interviews with Martha Stewart and Matt Lauer—where you re-affirmed your Cookie Monster identity and love of cookies. But you also explained that you now believe cookies are a “sometime food.” With self-deprecation, you told Stephen Colbert that you consider yourself “the Robert Downey of cookies.” You noted that despite charges to the contrary, you never planned to change your name or appearance. But you hoped people would understand if, going forward, you sometimes did more than just wolf down plates of cookies.
Despite your efforts to dispel the rumors about your name change, I missed your appearances and assumed for the last two years that you had indeed changed to the Veggie Monster. I continued to offer you up as an example of the excesses of political correctness.
So, Cookie, I hope you will accept my apology. Indeed, you are not and never were the Veggie Monster. I promise to never again offer you up as an example of political correctness run amok. Instead I will point to your non-transformation as another example of a silly rumor that got legs.