Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wheel Stealer? Stealers Wheel? Wheel Monster? Cookie Stealer?

Crazy couple of weeks here in Eric's world, and although posting has been the last thing on my mind, I figure I'd try to get back in the swing of things again. What better way to do that than with a little YouTube clip and commentary?

You all know where I stand with Sesame Street - or at least, those of you who read this blog regularly do. Fantastic show. Unfortunately, however, I can't remember the last time I saw it on TV. I was probably just a mere youngin'. When my two sisters had children of their own (two girls for one, two boys for the other - deuces wild!) I figured I'd get a steady dose of the stuff. Not so. I don't think my nieces and nephews have even the slightest idea of what Sesame Street is. They're too busy watching Dora the Explorer, Thomas the Tank Engine, J.J. the Jet Plane, Barney (oh, the horror), Caillou (let me know if you can pronounce this), and whatever else, and quite frankly, I feel like they're missing out. A childhood without Grover, Oscar, Snuffleupagus (and I want to go on record as saying Snuffy should NEVER have been 'discovered' by the adults in the mid-80's - I'm still angry about that one), Big Bird, and Cookie Monster is a deprived one. And fine, so I'm a 31 year old male who pines for Sesame Street. All I can say is, watch it sometime. It's just as funny now as it was then. The Muppeteers (Henson/Oz et al.) did a wonderful job of making the show enjoyable for both children and adults.

And it's with that in mind that I present this next clip - Coffee Break Machine. Your first thought upon seeing it might very well be, "Wait a minute - Cookie Monster doesn't have any teeth", and you'd be correct. He doesn't have green fur either. In fact, the monster featured isn't Cookie Monster at all, but his predecessor - a monster named Wheel Stealer.

From Wikipedia:

"The book Jim Henson's Designs and Doodles explains Cookie Monster's origin as follows: "In 1966, Henson drew three monsters that ate cookies and appeared in a General Foods commercial that featured three crunch 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.

In 1967, Henson used the "Wheel-Stealer" puppet for an IBM training film called "Coffee Break Machine". In the sketch, the monster (with frightening eyes and fangs) devours a complex machine as the machine describes its purpose and construction.

Two years later, Henson pulled the puppet out of the box again for three commercials selling Munchos, a Frito-Lay potato chip. This time, the puppet was called Arnold, the Munching Monster. 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. Cookie Monster, still unnamed, made his Sesame Street debut in the first episode, interfering with Kermit the Frog's "famous W lecture" by eating a model "W" bit by bit (turning it into an "N", a "V", and finally an "I", to Kermit's frustration)."

Interesting facts for you the next time you play Trivial Pursuit: Sesame Street Edition. And, as someone who works with computers for a living, I can fully appreciate Wheel Stealer's actions. Computers.... ahm ahm ahm mmmm...!! (last sentence provided courtesy of Miss Goofus.) Have fun. This is a lost classic, this is.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not so Eric....
My boys watch sesame street! Although i must admit the only characters they know are Elmo, Ernie and Big Bird! Unfortunately when Barney comes on they are glued.
Good to see a new post!

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Statler: He's a 31 year old male who pines for "Sesame Street"!

Waldorf: I can't believe it!

Statler: It's ridiculous!

Waldorf: It's impossible!

Statler: It's surprising!

Waldorf: It's...not too bad.

Statler: He's amazing!

Waldorf: I love him!

Statler: More!

11:37 PM  

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