Was the Cookie Monster Originally Invented for a Cheese Snack Commercial?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Cookie Monster was originally created as the “Wheel-Stealer” for a cheese snack commercial.

An interesting aspect of Jim Henson’s career is that before the debut of Sesame Street, while Henson made a number of appearances on late night television (and his character Rowlf was a regular on The Jimmy Dean Show during the early 1960s) his Muppets were best known in the country for their appearances in various commercials around the country (in the Washington D.C. area, where Henson got his big break doing the puppet television show Sam and Friends in the 1950s, he did over 300 ads for Wilkins Coffee). These early commercial works helped Henson to develop the style that he would later use on both Sesame Street as well as The Muppet Show. However, as you might imagine, these ads also gave him the freedom to develop new characters and one of the most amusing character developments was the evolution of one puppet called the “Wheel-Stealer” that went from being one of three puppets in an unaired ad campaign for a long-forgotten cheese snack to one of the most famous Muppets of them all, the Cookie Monster.

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Did Spike Milligan Wear a Shirt That Said “Hashish” When He Was On the Muppet Show?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Spike Milligan wore a shirt that said “Hashish” on it when he was on the Muppet Show.

Spike Milligan (1918-2002) was one of England’s leading comedians from his days with The Goon Show in the 1950s (along with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe)

to his days with Q during the 1970s (and lots of projects in between over the many, many years he was a performer – he was performing and especially writing right up to his death in 2002).

In 1978, Milligan hosted the third season of The Muppet Show, for an episode about international good will, etc.

At one point during the show, Milligan is wearing a T-Shirt with Arabic lettering on it…

For years, it has been said that Milligan’s shirt translated to “hashish,” and this was a sly opportunity by Milligan to sneak a drug reference into the show (hashish is a preparation of cannabis). As the story goes, no one noticed what he was doing until the episode had already aired.

Is it true?

Continue reading “Did Spike Milligan Wear a Shirt That Said “Hashish” When He Was On the Muppet Show?”