The Cookie Monster Influence

cookie monster (O'Connell)In recent years, the reformed Cookie Monster, who saw the light and realized that “cookies are a sometimes food,” has been all over the media. In November of last year, the popular TV show “Last Week Tonight” featured a sketch in which host John Oliver schooled Cookie Monster about the proper British words for things and called him “The Biscuit Monster.” The following month, and providing links to all the relevant video clips, Alexandra Svokos wrote for Huffington Post:

Last year, “Sesame Street” began a curriculum of self-regulation, in which Cookie Monster waits before guzzling cookies. Deborah L. Linebarger at the University of Iowa Children’s Media Lab led a study using these new clips to see if children would mimic Cookie Monster’s good behavior.

Kids watched Cookie Monster demonstrate self-control, and then took the Marshmallow Test, which provides an objective measure of the ability to resist cravings by noting how long a child can hold out against temptation. The Cookie Monster kids did exceedingly well, and were given DVDs to take home so they could watch more scenes of Cookie Monster reiterating the same message.

After 3 weeks of viewing, all children in the study were measured again and the Cookie Monster kids had stronger inhibition skills and a greater ability to focus. One thing is important to remember. Although in this research, the Marshmallow Test was more of a tool and a means to an end, it is a respected entity on its own. The reporter noted:

Studies have shown that children who resist the temptation tend to have better outcomes in life, from higher SAT scores to better health.

Sometimes personality traits are found together in clusters, and what the original Marshmallow Test established was that the ability to resist cravings is somehow linked to an ability to follow instructions, and follow through on challenging tasks, and summon up the patience to do time-intensive ones, and even the ability to interact effectively in social settings.

This may be one reason why people who have avoided obesity get better-paying jobs. There is a perception in the business world that overweight and obese employees don’t do their jobs as well. The Marshmallow Test research suggests that it may not be just a baseless prejudice, and that intangible qualities like attitude really do make a difference.

Cookie Monster is now everywhere. In January, Cookie Monster and Elmo, another Sesame Street character, appeared on “Entertainment Weekly,” and performed their own versions of popular TV shows like “House of Cards” and “True Detective.” In February, a video was published in which Cookie Monster engaged in Mitch Hedberg-esque short observations like, “Cookie dough is the sushi of desserts.” Also, Cookie Thief, the blue puppet’s first movie, made its debut via the PBS Kids network. Then last month, for the PBS series “Everything But The News,” he launched a career as a Life Coach, a segment described by Mike Vago as “host Steve Goldbloom and a few others laying their self-doubt bare before a well-qualified life coach’s discerning googly eye.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Cookie Monster Pretty Much Loses It After John Oliver Asks Him ‘What’s A Cookie?’,” HuffingtonPost.com, 11/06/14
Source: “Watching Cookie Monster Can Improve A Child’s Self-Control,” HuffingtonPost.com, 12/01/14
Source: “Elmo, Cookie Monster visit EW and parody ‘True Detective,’ ‘Sherlock,’ ‘Scandal’,” EW.com. 01/18/15
Source: “Simply Delicious Shower Thoughts with Cookie Monster,” YouTube.com, 02/18/15
Source: “Let Cookie Monster be your life coach,” AVClub.com, 03/23/15
Image by Michelle O’Connell

 

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:

Presentations

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources