When I was a kid, and even in to my early teen years, I loved Sesame Street. Not the learning bits (I knew the alphabet and how to count and the shapes and all that), but the parts involving the characters. There was something very real about those giant Muppets. Even to this day, I try to watch Christmas Eve on Sesame Street during the holidays.
My favorite characters were Big Bird and his stalwart cohort Snuffleupagus.
(Check out this Wikipedia page: apparently, Snuffy’s first name is Aloysius. I got into an argument once with someone who claimed that Snuffy wasn’t real, and was merely a figment of Big Bird’s imagination. This may have originally been the case, but in 1985 in episode 2096 Snuffy is revealed to the rest of Sesame Street as real.)
I also held a particular fondness for Cookie Monster, mostly because he was the main source of comic relief, aside from Grover and his often failed exploits.
But despite my love of Cookie Monster—and my own love of cookies in my very fat younger years—he couldn’t be my favorite character. Years later I would understand that it was his monomania for cookies that prevented him from becoming a round character (in the metaphoric sense, not the literal physical sense), and therefore something I could truly relate to. (I think this happened somewhere around 2007, when I finally learned the word “monomania.”)
Today, I found that NPR offers a blog called “In Character” that examines great American characters, ranging from Optimus Prime to Gordon Gekko to Willy Loman to the Lone Ranger.
Recently, blogger Elizabeth Blair sat down for an interview with Cookie Monster. Check out the video here.
In the interview, she gives Cookie a version of the Proust Questionnaire, which, in its original form, features questions such as: What is your idea of earthly happiness? Who are your favorite heroines of fiction? and, To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
There is more about Cookie Monster here.
I think Cookie Monster remains steadfast as a cultural icon because he is id personified, a creature completely devoted to the one thing that makes him happy. On some level, I think that we all want to be like him in that regard, but are bound by the restraints of real life.
However, I hope that there is some Cookie Monster in each of us, and that we can find the time and energy to keep him well fed.