And the answer: Elmo.
It’s Elmo’s world! In 2002, Elmo testified before a House Appropriations Subcommittee to lobby for music education, imploring them to approve the federal funding needed for schools. As the only non-human to testify before Congress, Elmo was met with some giggles, but reassured the committee that "Elmo’s not making a mockery of this place, no. It’s very important."
Since November of 1969, Sesame Street has been entertaining young children (and adults) with everything from the alphabet to valuable life lessons. The show has managed not only to stay on the air, but also to win over the hearts of every generation that has succeeded the last—turning kids raised on the show into adults who enjoy it with their own children. Its decades-long runtime also means it has amassed some impressive cameos over the years, including appearances from four First Ladies of the United States. That’s right: Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama have all stopped by to hang out with the Sesame Street gang and to teach young viewers about a variety of issues, including healthy eating and the importance of literacy. (Hillary Clinton even shared a smooch with Oscar!) Aside from the presidential suite, over 500 celebrities have appeared briefly in episodes of Sesame Street.
Did you know?
Yesterday, November 10, was Sesame Street Day! The holiday was established in 2009 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its original broadcast, yet it persists today as a celebration of the show’s massive and continued impact. Among the original cast members, Kermit the Frog, Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster are all still principal characters on the show. Interestingly, Elmo didn’t enter the scene until the mid-80s!
Sesame Street is not only a favorite for American audiences, however. In fact, the show is aired in over 150 countries, with some locally produced versions of the show appearing in over 30 countries including South Africa, France, and Israel. Significantly, the content of the show actually changes in some places to address the specific educational needs of the children in those countries. Muppet education for the win!
Learn more about the history and impact of Sesame Street here.