|PERFORMER||Frank Oz 1969-2004|
|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 sound that is often interpreted as "OMM-nom-nom-nom..."
Cookie Monster has a deep, growly voice, and generally speaks with simplistic diction — for instance, saying "Me want cookie!" as opposed to "I want a cookie!" 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 in the premiere season of Sesame Street, as one of several recycled stock monsters that would appear in Muppet inserts. Early on, he often appeared as a foil to Ernie and Kermit, destroyed property used during lectures, and sometimes acted fussy if he didn't get his way. The monster's ravenous appetite for inedible objects was also established, devouring everything from letters to ukuleles.
According to Jeff Moss, the monsters were initially deemed behind-the-scenes as scary and they didn't speak. He suggested to executive producer Dave Connell about writing for the blue, boggle-eyed monster and having him talk very little. Moss wrote a skit for Episode 0011, where the monster's only spoken lines were "milk" and "cookie." Moss has cited this segment as the genesis of Cookie Monster.
Another account of Cookie Monster's origin, as cited on separate occasions by Jon Stone, Jim Henson, and Frank Oz, references a game show sketch; The Mr. and Mrs. Game, which first appeared in Episode 0072. The sketch featured another monster puppet, Beautiful Day Monster, as the winning contestant who chooses a cookie over an array of luxurious prizes. Cookie Monster's identity gradually took shape, and he became one of the most popular and beloved characters on the show. His signature song, "C is for Cookie," is one of the most famous songs from Sesame Street.
Cookie Monster's staccato speech pattern developed in early seasons, using "I" more often than "me" until Season 4. In response to a viewer complaint about Cookie's syntax, Frank Oz has been quoted as saying, "I don't think somebody's going to grow up a lawyer and saying 'me want to represent you'." Arlene Sherman recalled in a 1998 Museum of Television and Radio seminar, "We used to have a typist that corrected Cookie Monster's grammar!"
Over the years, Cookie Monster has been featured in several regular segments. With Sesame Street's format change in 2002, Cookie hosted the "Letter of the Day" segments. In each episode, he is presented with a cookie, upon which is written the letter of the day, in icing. Despite his best intentions, and various implausible schemes, he always succumbs to temptation. Later segments feature Prairie Dawn trying to restrain Cookie's urges to devour the letter of the day, presented instead as actual foam letters.
In Seasons 44 and 45, Cookie appeared in "Cookie's Crumby Pictures" as the star of various movie parodies. This was followed by "Smart Cookies" in 2016, which featured Cookie as the rookie agent of a crime-fighting team of cookies. "Cookie Monster's Foodie Truck," introduced in 2017, has Cookie and his co-chef Gonger fielding orders from their foodie truck, and they learn about the origin of certain ingredients in their recipes. Cookie also appears in the British Sesame Street co-production The Furchester Hotel, in which he is the head dining-room waiter and room service.
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."
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 hip-hop 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 Episode 4115 (2006), Matt Lauer 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 the 2004 song "The First Time Me Eat Cookie," Cookie Monster revealed 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.
Cookie Monster has devoured hundreds of cookies in his time on Sesame Street. However, the cookies used on the show are not really cookies at all, as the oils from the actual food would be damaging to the puppet.
At the time of writing the Sesame Street Unpaved book, prop makers were using painted rice crackers for cookies. With the advent of high-definition, however, this was no longer convincing, so Lara MacLean developed a recipe for breakaway cookies that has since been shared with The Jim Henson Company. The recipe includes pancake mix, puffed rice, grape nuts, instant coffee (for color) and hot glue for the chocolate chips. The same process was used on The Furchester Hotel, where the workshop typically baked 200 cookies per week, with approximately 1,500 cookies being baked over the course of the series.
- 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. The very first instance of Cookie Monster's lower body being shown is the Universal Studios Japan attraction Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic, which did not get an American release until 2008. Other instances where Cookie's 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. (First: Episode 0064)
- Cookie has been referred to in various instances as "The Cookie Monster," including The Dick Cavett Show, Julie on Sesame Street, a sketch with Ernie, the book Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree, the 10th Anniversary Album, a season 34 episode, and a season 43 episode.
- When asked by Wired whether he has a nose, Cookie Monster responded that "Me know that you no can see it, but me have nose. It way down deep in the fur." He also revealed that he has a rent-controlled apartment, so "me not going anywhere."
- In the song Cookie, Cookie Monster revealed that his first word as a "cute little baby" was none other than "Cookie!"
- Borgenicht, David. Sesame Street Unpaved, page 67
- Jeff Moss on Fresh Air (1994), archived on npr.org
- Emmens, Carol A. "Jim Henson and the People Behind the Muppet Mania". School Library Journal. September 1984, Vol. 31 Issue 1, page 29.
- Jon Stone, quoted from his unpublished memoir; Davis, Michael. Street Gang, 2008, pp.246-247, New York: Viking Press
- Jim Henson, filmed interview included on 40 Years of Sunny Days, Disc 2 bonus features
- Frank Oz on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, September 12, 2015, (audio)
- The New Zealand Herald - A quick word: Cookie Monster
- From an August 23, 2010 Facebook video 
- Below the Frame Podcast Episode #5 (01:12:44)
- "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.