Early Sesame Street DVDs Have "Adults Only" Warnings

The producers of Sesame Street have slapped volumes 1 & 2 of the eternally running children’s show with the following warning: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.” Why? Cookie Monster carries a pipe in one recurring parody—and then eats it. Oscar the Grouch is too grouchy and mean. And in the first episode, a grown man—Gordon—asks a little girl to come home with him for milk and cookies… and she does!

Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times tries to get to the bottom of the warning label, but the executive producer’s response seems kind of underwhelming:

I asked Carol-Lynn Parente, the executive producer of “Sesame Street,” how exactly the first episodes were unsuitable for toddlers in 2007. She told me about Alistair Cookie and the parody “Monsterpiece Theater.” Alistair Cookie, played by Cookie Monster, used to appear with a pipe, which he later gobbled. According to Parente, “That modeled the wrong behavior”—smoking, eating pipes—”so we reshot those scenes without the pipe, and then we dropped the parody altogether.”

Hmm, we wonder if the producers of Sesame Street have ever seen Wonder Showzen?

“Sweeping the Clouds Away” [New York Times via Slashdot]


Edit Your Comment

  1. vr4z06gt says:

    gotta love the 80’s

  2. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Dude, Monsterpiece Theatre was the shit. What is wrong with these people?

    I wonder if they’re putting CAUTION: ACID TRIP AHEAD on their “Electric Company” DVDs.

  3. baltwade says:

    @vr4z06gt: 70’s

  4. MikeB says:

    Actually, this is late 60’s early 70’s stuff. And early Jim Henson stuff was definitely not meant for kids, see the first few episodes of Saturday Night Live. Don’t really have a problem with this stuff though.

  5. l951b951 says:

    I grew up with sesame street, and I’ve seen the Alistair Cookie parody. I’m grew up to be a non smoker.

    It’s almost as if my parents taught me better and instilled a sense that TV is not real and that it shouldn’t be emulated when you know better. Hmmmm, I wonder if that is even an option today, or do children have to obey the babysitter, TV?

  6. l951b951 says:

    *I’M* also grew up to make typos. Correction for above: “I grew up….”

  7. Wrathos says:

    so I guess this also means no more Don Music slamming his head against the piano when he can’t remember the words to Mary Had a Little Lamb…

  8. Falconfire says:

    Its official todays Americans are fucking pussys.

    In response Im going to buy these JUST to show my children. I grew up on this and loved it, they will to!.

  9. missdona says:

    @Falconfire: I was just writing the same thing. (A lot of) Today’s kids are so just so sheltered and protected.

    Sesame Street made us strong kids!

  10. @l951b951: I also don’t light cigars and run away because I know they will explode.

    When I was a kid, for a short time, I believed that when you turned the TV off, and you came back, it would be at the same place. Wow, I thought of Tivo back in the early 80’s.

  11. @Wrathos: And Animal must be shown that he has a disease as defined by the DSM IV. And also, the collar he wears is demeaning.

  12. floydianslip6 says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: I thought that was an S&M thing?

  13. fredmertz says:

    I read an interview with Frank Oz recently where he pretty much slammed the last 20 years of Sesame Street. Said it is “well-meaning” but so far away from the original point to be a completely different (and worse) show. Oh Don Music, Roosevelt Franklin and the Amazing Mumford, where have you gone!

  14. swalve says:

    @fredmertz: For whatever reason, SS has shifted to a younger audience. Instead of being for ages 4-9, it’s now more for ages 3-6. I’m not sure why, but that’s why it’s lame to people who aren’t 4.

  15. Parting says:

    If it’s written for adults only doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t watch it, it’s a kid’s show anyway.

    When we were kids, we watched a lot of horror and science fiction movies (ignoring whatever warnings there was), and none of the people I know turned out to be violent-bloodsucking-murderous creature.

    On the other hand, a girl I know, who’s parents sheltered her from all ”for adults” movies, well she’s not just weird, she’s outright creepy.

  16. Wrathos says:

    At least Captain Vegetable is safe…unless they deem him a product of hallucinogenics.

  17. Parting says:

    @Wrathos: Vegetables cannot speak, so it should be banned.

    Unless Captain Vegetable is a Genetically Modified Organism :)

  18. Hedgy2136 says:


    Gotta be careful, though. Cucumbers, zuchinni squash, carrots and banannas are full of sexual innuendo. Hell, if you try hard enough, almost any seemilgly innocent thing can be made inappropriate.

  19. ARP says:

    The problem is that we expect TV to raise our kids. The key is “controlled exposure.” You can’t shelter your kids from everything (if you do, they usually end up creepy bible thumpers or go the opposite direction, rebel, and become bimbo/mimbo tweakers). So the key is to RAISE YOUR KIDS. Limit their TV, When they do watch TV, watch stuff with them. Explain to them what is real, what is not, what is appropriate, what is not, what’s right, what’s wrong. TV can’t do it, you have to.

    P.S. Just because they can only watch Veggie Tales (or other religious shows), doesn’t mean they’ll be well adjusted. Involved parents of any (or no) religion beats all the values (usually Christain)stuff combined.

  20. theblackdog says:

    I’m tempted to buy this just to see how many adult jokes went over our heads as kids.

  21. IndyJaws says:

    I was the first generation weaned on Sesame Street and couldn’t wait for my daughter to start watching it a few years back. Maybe my perspective has changed, but it’s seemed to have lost -something-. There used to be a sense of community on the show…now, not so much. Plus, the last 20 minutes of each show were strictly Elmo. Words cannot describe the hatred I have for that f’n puppet.

  22. homerjay says:

    Everything changed when Mr. Hooper died.

  23. Moimeme says:

    @homerjay: So true.

    In any case – don’t fret people. It’s really just the TV regulating industry that makes it seems like kids are wusses. DVD players and parental guidance are the way forth.

    My 4 year old is all up on her Gumby, Fraggle Rock, Gummi Bears, Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes…and anything else old, cool(and potentially inappropriate) we can find.

  24. Jon Parker says:

    @ARP: Maybe you expect TV to raise your kids, but I don’t. Or were you talking about all those *other* people?

  25. chartrule says:

    it’s funny that all the things that were safe/appropriate when we were kids are no longer safe/appropriate.

    I wonder what they will slap a warning label on next

  26. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    I know it was a hard battle to get all those children of the 70s to stop eating pipes after watching sesame street!

  27. Sidecutter says:

    @theblackdog: Watch Peewee’s Playhouse. It’s rife with innuendo. Like Terry sitting atop the big blue chair staring down the redheaded lady’s shirt as they discuss the view from the clubhouse, and commenting on the view from up there being great. Complete with a Terry’s POV shot from the camera.

  28. vanillabean says:

    @Falconfire: It’s good to know that some parents aren’t completely bubble wrapping childhood. Good for you.

  29. North of 49 says:

    Sesame Street has lost its heart. It lost what it was at its core.

  30. mgyqmb says:

    Don’t nobody care ’bout no ‘C’!

  31. catnapped says:

    I’ll bet the PTC is the one behind all this phony outrage. They’re been throwing fits over the whole “Bert and Ernie” arrangement for years!

  32. RandomHookup says:

    You mean I wasn’t supposed to go home with that man for cookies and milk? But he had snickerdoodles…and a puppy!!

  33. Electroqueen says:

    Not suitable for children of 2007?
    Wow! Children these days are mentally weaker? Gee I wonder why…
    I laugh at the thought that the kids of generations past can easily kick our children’s butts.

  34. AbstractConcept says:

    retro political correctness, gotta love it!

  35. MameDennis says:

    I still miss Mr. Hooper… I always get a bit weepy at the end of “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street”…

    (I own both my weepiness and my choice of holiday movies.)

  36. ChristopherDavis says:

    I wonder if it’ll include this version of the Song of the Count.

  37. j.b. says:


    The real shift came along when Snuffy became visible to everyone. It’s not that everyone could finally see him, it’s the reason why they chose to do it.

  38. Moimeme says:

    @Sidecutter: Yes! We have the PeeWee’s Playhouse boxed set and it is awesome. Also, Fairytale Theatre is wonderful with lots of crass jokes that will go over your kids’ heads.

  39. dirtymoney says:

    I miss how sesame street used to be back in the late 70s & early 80s (when I was a kid). It just isnt the same today.

    Now if you WANT to get rid of or censor an old kids tv show….. “The Letter People” is the one to do it to! That show terrified me as a kid!

  40. axiomatic says:

    Pryor: “C” is for cocaine. “D” is for detox…

  41. DrGirlfriend says:

    I mean, by that logic, kids shouldn’t watch Sesame Street today either, because Cookie Monster sets a bad obesity and Type II diabetes example. Children should stay in their rooms all day, getting one hour of strictly supervised playtime outdoors. But only if it’s sunny, and only if they are wearing 100 SPF sunblock. And a helmet.

  42. I also watched Monsterpiece Theatre, and I have yet to either smoke or chow down on a pipe.

  43. frugalchick says:

    Does anyone know if this is real? I can’t find any mention of it being “Adult’s Only” anywhere except for this article. It doesn’t say so on Sesame Street’s website, unless I missed it somewhere.

  44. SaraAB87 says:

    My most favorite show as a kid was Pee Wee’s Playhouse. This show really is crass and has plenty of stuff for adults in it, yet it was fine when I was 5 years old. I got mad when it was taken off the air and to stop me from asking questions my mom told me that he went to the bathroom in public and thats why it was off the air. I still have my Pee Wee’s playhouse lunchbox..

  45. veronykah says:

    @Sidecutter: SO true about Peewee, I was watching it and was blown away by how “dirty” it could be interpreted. I don’t remember “getting” that as a kid so what’s the big deal.
    Thats the beauty of innuendo, it flys right over kids heads. Haven’t parents been using it forever?

  46. bunnymen says:



    I guess kids whose brains have been liquified by “Elmo’s World” just can’t comprehend…anything at all, I guess.

    While I grew up watching Monsterpiece Theatre and also smoked for 10 years, I can’t say that a) correlation = causation, or that b) I’ve ever even smoked a damn (tobacco) pipe.

  47. lim says:

    I remember having nightmares about the Count…but otherwise it gave Mom time for a nap while I learned to count and spell.

    I guess these days I’d have been taken away from my mother. She showed me a very detailed and clinical film about child birth, I think it was called “The Miracle of Birth” maybe it was “life”, and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” before I hit Jr. High. I was allowed to ask questions about both, and did so.

    I didn’t mistake fantasy with reality though, and the stupidest things I ever did was when I was trying to do things I saw adults do in real life, like hammering nails and cleaning fish. Opps.

  48. mthrndr says:

    I hate the nanny state.

  49. maddypilar says:

    @j.b.: Didn’t they make Snuffy visible because they were afraid they were sending the message to kids that adults would not believe them if they had something important to tell them.

  50. br549xt93 says:

    I love Wonder Showzen!

  51. adamondi says:

    What is more sad? Thinking that today’s small children cannot handle the content of old Sesame Street episodes? Or adults purchasing old Sesame Street episodes to watch by themselves?

  52. that adults would not believe them if they had something important to tell them.

    @maddypilar: Why not send that message? It’s true!

    @DrGirlfriend: Haven’t they already made Cookie Monster stop eating cookies?

  53. DrGirlfriend says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I don’t know. I don’t watch Sesame Street anymore.

  54. specialed5000 says:

    @DrGirlfriend: I think that now he still eats cookies, but not that often, and also eats apples and carrots, etc.

  55. mopar_man says:

    I need to pick these up along with some of the original Looney Toons episodes. Kids shows these days are just weak.

  56. WV.Hillbilly says:

    It’s now just a vehicle to sell shit to kids.

    The Corporation For Public Broadcasting (a private corporation funded with public money- what kind of bullshit is that?) doesn’t get a dime from Sesame Street sales.

  57. nardo218 says:

    No more Monsterpiece Theater?!?! That was one of my favorite sketches!

  58. nardo218 says:

    @l951b951: I don’t smoke either, but Monsterpiece Theater is probably the reason I tried to inhale my bubbles pipe…

  59. dotorg greg says:

    @frugalchick: the “Adults only” language is from the NY Times critic, not from the box. The Times quotes the packaging: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

    And not to defend CTW too much, because I, too, am subjectively nostalgic about my own childhood watching, but the “suit the needs” part is a reference to the accumulated body of child behavior research that has informed changes to the show over the years.

    I remember reading about Don Music that they found kids were modeling behavior they saw on TV; i.e., the show was teaching kids to pound their head on furniture when they were frustrated. In the absence of positive role models or proactive parents, such as in the “slum” families The Street was originally intended for, that’s the only message they got.

    Now let’s resume our collective self-praise for making it into the top half of society.

  60. Valhawk says:


    Ah the miracle of life was a Nova documentery, I think?

    This is absurd and insane. It’s as if every day I find a new reason to be even more libertarian.

  61. RvLeshrac says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    “Mommy, the priest is touching me in a bad way.”
    “He couldn’t possibly be doing that, he’s a good christian man!”

    @dotorg greg:

    Uh, the “accumulated body of child behavior research that has informed changes to the show over the years” is the same “research” that brought us the “Baby Einstein” videos. And we know how well those have worked.

    Penn & Teller and Levitt/Dubner tackled this. Your kids do well if you pay attention to them and demonstrate that you value education. Television, school, and “peer pressure” have very little to do with how your children are raised.

    Freakonomics also points out that numbers are frequently crap, and that people aren’t clones – they learn and act according to their unique brains. What’s appropriate for one child could be useless for another.