Today is the 45th anniversary of "Sesame Street," the longest running children's show on television and the one show that unites generations of children of all genders and ethnicities around the world. Sesame Street was created in 1969 with one mission — to help children grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Over the years, the show has tackled everything from teaching kids the alphabet to teaching them how to deal with divorce, having parents in prison, and even HIV/AIDS.
"Sesame Street" has won 159 Emmy Awards in its 45 years. But more importantly it has won the adoration of countless children and parents and grandparents around the world. With its rich history and status as a popular icon, it wasn't hard to find information about the show and its best moments over the years, but here are 10 nuggets of gold that might surprise even our biggest "Sesame Street" fans:
1. It almost wasn't called "Sesame Street." The first choice for the show's name was 123 Avenue B, but that name was rejected because the creators thought it would not appeal to kids outside New York City. Fun Street was another name possibility. But in the 11th hour, one of the show's writers proposed the word "Sesame," as in "Open Sesame" from "Arabian Nights" tale. There was apparently some hesitation to the name "Sesame Street" because some feared that children would have a hard time saying it. But 45 seasons and three generations later, I think those fears have been put to rest.
2. Originally, the humans and Muppets were not supposed to interact. Some worried that mixing the two would confuse children about what's real and what's not. All of that changed when the show's creators realized that the children stopped watching whenever the show cut to only humans.
3. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson made him green before the start of the second season. (Oscar explained his color change by saying he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.)
4. C-3PO and R2-D2 appeared on the show in 1980. They played games and sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.
5. Snuffleupagus has a first name. It's Aloysius.
6. Seeing Snuffleupagus. He was originally only seen by Big Bird, and the adults on the show would refuse to believe that he existed. But the show's creators realized this might discourage kids from sharing things with their parents.
7. In 1970, Ernie’s signature song “Rubber Duckie” reached No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. Count Dracula's birthday is Oct. 9, 1,830,653 B.C.
9. The original version of the Cookie Monster predates "Sesame Street" by three years. The puppet, named, "Sid," first appeared in a cracker commercial in 1966. (The picture at top is from that commercial.)
10. This is quite possibly the cutest scene to ever air on "Sesame Street."
BONUS!: James Earl Jones was the first celebrity to appear on "Sesame Street." Over the years, some of the biggest names in movies, sports, books, music, and even politics have appeared on the show — everyone from Ray Charles to Buzz Aldrin to Andrea Bocelli to Anderson Cooper to Kofi Annan to the Harlem Globetrotters ... just to name a few. Here's that footage of Jones' first appearance, by the way. You'll never recite the alphabet the same way again!
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All images: Sesame Street