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.

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