10 Fascinating Facts About Sesame Street

Posted Mar 29, by Alison Stanton

Rubber Duckie is Ernie’s signature song, which, as you might guess, is a tribute to his Rubber Duckie. It had the distinction of being both number 16 on Billboard’s “Hot 100 Singles” in 1970 and being nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording For Children (which was beaten by The Sesame Street Book & Record). 

The first instance of the song appearing came in episode 78, when Ernie sang the song in his bathtub. The song has since been rerecorded a few times with different voice actors, but the same rubber duckie has always been used to match the sound of the original. 

Other artists have also covered the song. Bob McGrath and Little Richard have both done recordings at one point. Most recently, the song was hummed in a 2010 episode. You can listen to the song here.


\"\" Watching every episode of Sesame Street nonstop would take nearly half a year.

The beloved children’s show has become such a cornerstone of public broadcasting that its longevity is largely taken for granted. To illustrate this trend, take a moment to try and guess the number of seasons it has been on the air...is it 20? 30..? 40...?! Try 41 seasons. That’s nearly twice as long as The Simpsons has been around! This is not to mention the fact that at 60 minutes, each episode of Sesame Street is 2 to 3 times longer than any Simpsons episode. Forty-one seasons comes out to 4,256 total episodes, which means 4,256 hours of viewing time. The average month is 730 1/2 hours long, so that means watching all the Sesame Street episodes back-to-back would take 176.3 days, which is the equivalent of 5.8 MONTHS!

Check out this vintage Sesame Street clip:

Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie are officially NOT gay.

After over 40 years of speculation, the Sesame Workshop confirmed once and for all that despite sharing a bedroom, the pair of puppet pals are not a romantic couple. This distinction was made in response to a recent petition calling for the ambiguously straight duo to come out of the closet. The letter asked for the show’s producers to allow Bert and Ernie to get married as a sign of tolerance for homosexuals everywhere. The Sesame Workshop responded with this statement, clarifying their position that Bert and Ernie are neither gay NOR straight, as they are merely puppets:

“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

If you think about it, it’s probably not a bad idea. Africa has an overwhelming amount of HIV victims. Sesame Street is an educational program for kids, so it makes sense that they would try to inform them of HIV at a young age.

Former President Bill Clinton was taped with Kami the muppet talking about HIV. Kami reveals to Clinton that she has HIV and they discuss how it’s important to talk with your parents about it and it is safe to give people who are HIV positive a hug.

Fear of AIDS is rampant in Africa. The clip appeared on World AIDS Day in 2006.

\"\" The ‘cookies’ that are eaten by Cookie Monster on Sesame Street are not actually cookies.

Many parents have expressed concern about the eating habits Cookie Monster promotes, but believe it or not, our furry blue friend may be a health food nut in disguise. The cookies that he snacks do not contain eggs, flour, or even chocolate - they are actually rice cakes that have been disguised to resemble chocolate chip cookies! Apparently, rice cakes break apart convincingly like the real thing, and they save the Muppet costume from being covered in chocolate, oil, and grease. And that’s the way the rice cake crumbles....

\"\" Cookie Monster has a real name!

In a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster revealed that back before he ate his first cookie, his name used to be “Sid”. Then he developed his cookie-eating habit, and the nickname that came with it stuck. This caused all of the other monsters to forget his actual name!

Elmo is voiced by a 50-year-old black man!

Three different performers played Sesame Street’s beloved red Muppet prior to 1985, but it wasn’t until that year that the ticklish little guy truly found his voice. It came from a pretty unlikely source too - a baritone by the name of Kevin Clash. Clash had just joined the ranks of the show’s puppeteers a year earlier, voicing minor characters such as Hoots the Owl, Baby Natasha, and Dr. Nobel Price.

Nevertheless, Kevin didn’t find his true calling until flipping up into his falsetto to find Elmo’s adorable timbre. The funniest thing about this fact for me personally is that the BEST Elmo impression I have EVER heard was also done by a black friend of mine back in college...a 6’5”, 250 lb defensive end on the football team!

Still skeptical? Check out Kevin/Elmo’s interview below:

Frank Oz, the actor most famous for playing Yoda from the Star Wars films, also performed as at least NINE different Muppets!

Believe it or not, Oz was born to a pair of puppeteers, and was honing his craft as part of the Oznowicz Family Marionettes troupe by the age of 12! Oz first crossed paths with Jim Henson at the age of 17 at a national puppetry convention, and he joined the Muppets, Inc. company just two years later, first performing as Rowlf the dog’s right hand. Frank invented the Sesame Street characters of Bert, Grover, and Cookie Monster and performed this trio exclusively for nearly 30 years! He was also offered the role of Big Bird, but turned it down because he hated full-body puppet performance. On The Muppet Show, Oz’s Fozzie Bear was originally intended as a main role, while Miss Piggy was supposed to be more of a secondary character. Oz’s portrayal gave such life to the character that she became one of the stars of the show, and he went from splitting time on her to playing Piggy full-time!

Frank also played Animal, Sam the Eagle, and lesser-known characters like George the Janitor and Marvin Suggs. Over the years, Oz and Jim Henson were quite the dynamic duo, collaborating on famous puppet pairs such as Bert (Oz) and Ernie (Henson) and Kermit the Frog (Henson) and Miss Piggy (Oz)...Oz even did the hands of the Swedish Chef while Henson worked the voice and body! These sketches were even more hilarious because Oz would typically do something unexpected with the hands without telling Henson ahead of time!

This makes Richard Belzer the only actor to portray the same character on that many different TV programs. The character originally appeared on Homicide: Life on the Streets, but upon the series’ cancellation, he was transplanted into Law & Order: SVU. He has survived around 19 years and 20 seasons. 

He was part of 112 episodes and 1 TV movie of Homicide and 295 episodes of SVU. Additionally, Detective Munch has also travelled to Arrested Development, The X-Files, 30 Rock, and even Jimmy Kimmel Live. 

A Muppet representation of him appeared in the Sesame Street sketch “Law&Order: Special Letters Unit.” Munch even made a brief cameo on the 1993 Paul Shaffer album The World’s Most Dangerous Party. This guy sure gets around. 


Oscar the Grouch was originally orange.

His color was changed to the green that we all know and love during the show's second season.


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