What Do Elmo’s Healthy Heroes Eat? Cotton Candy and Snow Cones

From BumbleSweet on Flickr

From BumbleSweet via Flickr

This year, as part of their Christmas present, we decided to take the boys to Sesame Street Live.  This year’s show is called Elmo’s Healthy Heroes.  The description on the Sesame Street website says this about the show:

When Super Grover loses his superness, Sesame Street needs a hero! Never fear, Elmo and his team of Healthy Heroes are here. Teaching lessons of healthy habits through song and dance, Elmo, Abby Cadabby and your favorite Sesame Street friends will explore exercise, nutrition, sleep/energy and hygiene – all in a quest to put the “super” back in Super Grover. It’s Elmo’s Healthy Heroes to the rescue!

It wasn’t my first choice of places to be in the middle of the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, but I did it for the kids, right?  The show itself was fine.  All the “big” characters were there.  We had good seats so we were able to see the characters well, and at times they came down off the stage and dances in the aisles.  Asa like that.  Kael didn’t.

The gist of the show is that Grover doesn’t take care of himself, so he isn’t “super” anymore.  This of course isn’t revealed until the end.  However, while Grover is looking for his super-ness, his friends help solve problems through singing songs about exercise, nutrition, hygiene, and getting enough sleep.

After about 45 minutes, the characters left the stage and the lights came on.  There was an announcement that there would be a 15 minute intermission.  After all the talk about taking care of ourselves, health, nutrition, and making good choices imagine my surprise when during the intermission, a Sesame Street cart with snow cones and cotton candy turns on its lights.  Yes, that’s right.  The only two items that Sesame Street had to offer kids and their families to eat at Elmo’s Healthy Heroes were snow cones and cotton candy.

Taken from vistic via Flickr

Neither cotton candy nor snow cones have any real ingredients!  They are made up of sugar, artificial colors, and chemicals.  That’s the food that Sesame Street chose to sell the children who came to see Elmo’s Healthy Heroes.  There were no almonds, no popcorn, no carrots, heck, they didn’t even have cookies!  Cookies at least have FOOD in them!  No, the people behind Elmo’s Healthy Heroes chose to sell children snacks with no food in them other than sugar!

I pointed this inconsistency out to my husband at the performance, and all he did was shake his head.  He was also in disbelief.  It seemed to me like a perfect example of the difference between awareness and action.  It seems like every day, we’re hearing about some sort of awareness campaign.  Buying pink products, posting bra colors, participating in a day of social media silence, changing pictures on Facebook to cartoons, etc., etc., etc.  If you wanted to, you could participate in an awareness campaign every day of the week.  But, what are we doing with this awareness?  Seemingly, nothing.  How many people out there don’t know that breast cancer exists?  Great.  Breast cancer.  Now, you’re aware, too.  What about action?  What about doing something?  We all know that there are people out there who experience cancer, homelessness, hunger, obesity, abuse.

In my opinion, this is exactly what happened at Elmo’s Healthy Heroes.  They gave great lip service to being healthy and making good choices.  Kids heard the message.  Then, they missed their chance to take action.  Instead of offering fun, healthy foods, they went with something that was non-perishable, cheap, chemically based, and nutritionally worthless.

I wrote an email to Sesame Street expressing my frustration.  As expected, I haven’t received a reply.


**As a side note, my children do not eat a perfect diet.  They eat sugar.  They eat artificial colors and chemicals in some of their foods.  They have eaten cotton candy before.  However, I did not expect to encounter this type of food as the only food being offered at an event supposedly dedicated to healthy living and making good choices regarding food and self-care.


  1. How frustrating. I understand that some families treat outings as a special treat, and therefore eat things that they normally wouldn’t, but shouldn’t we be more mindful for a child’s production? *Especially* one that is emphasizing nutrition and healthy food choices? I shared on FB and tagged Sesame Street for you 😉

  2. I totally get what you’re saying, but could it perhaps have been the venue’s fault? Just a thought, but regardless, they should have realized the hypocrisy!

  3. kreeeestamama says:

    Yikes! That really frustrates me too…

  4. Wow. I’m baffled. Not sure why but I am. I mean, let’s talk about being healthier and here – have some cotton candy. Whaaaa????

  5. Thanks, Dionna!

    @Dionna and @kreeeestamama – The cotton candy and the snow cones were from a little vendor type cart that was on the floor. It actually belonged to the Sesame Street crew. It wasn’t the venue’s concession stand. It was a small cart with a big Sesame Street sign over it. I get that the venue wants to make money and doesn’t have a stake in the message of the show. To be honest, I don’t know what they were selling. I was focused in disbelief on the snow cones.

  6. Gah! That’s not good. Not good at all.

    It’s hard not to be cynical about children’s entertainment. They slap an “educational” label on it and fill it with lovely messages, so that parents will approve. And then they use the children’s affection for the characters to try to sell them stuff. I remember when my daughter was a toddler it was hard to find clothes for her that didn’t have some character or another on them.

  7. I totally agree but think that the food available in hospital restaurants are more of a concern. My son has been in hospital twice in his life and both times the only food my husband and I could find to eat was a very greasy pizza, fries and chocolate bars. Hospitals are meant to be about promoting good health and helping people improve their health chances. The message is never going to drip through if the hospital themselves can’t even produce a healthy option menu!!

  8. M’s class went yesterday to the show downtown Minneapolis, and fortunately daycare brings snacks for the kids (snow cones and cotton candy don’t pass muster with the inspectors) so she had school provided snacks.
    I’m not sure if you did this, but I would contact them via Twitter. They are reasonably responsive there. The benefit is you get a real person, not a PR firm. They license their characters to a Minneapolis company that does the shows. While I am sure they approve the content, costumes and stuff they sell, I have a sneaking suspicion that they don’t approve the food. If they know about it, they are likely to change it.

  9. That’s a good idea. I’ll have to see if I can get a response there. I certainly didn’t get one from their website.

Speak Your Mind