Trivia

Hard

What Iconic Children’s Show Character Got His Start In An IBM Training Film?

Papa Smurf
George Jetson
Cookie Monster
Alvin
Cookie Monster interacting with the Coffee Break Machine in an IBM training film.
IBM/The Jim Henson Company

Answer: Cookie Monster

Aside from his blue fur matching IBM’s blue corporate colors, it’d be easy to assume that there was little connection between Sesame Street’s treat-loving Muppet Cookie Monster and the giant computer firm. Back in the 1960s, however, Jim Henson was put in charge of creating a training video for Big Blue. To that end, he lent his voice and his Muppets to the task, bringing out a prototype Cookie Monster Muppet.

A year prior to IBM tasking him with creating a training film, Henson was hired by General Foods to create a set of commercials focused on food-craving monsters. He made three unique Muppets for three types of crunchy snack foods, but the commercials were scrapped before airing. The hungry monsters were put on the shelf, but they didn’t have to wait long before seeing more action in front of the camera, though.

When it came time to produce the video for IBM, Henson pulled the early version of Cookie Monster out to serve as a confused and destructive end-user. In the training film called Coffee Break Machine, focused on the importance of design and user interfaces, Cookie Monster grows frustrated with the complexities of the coffee machine and ends up devouring it with explosive results.

After that, Cookie Monster appeared in a handful of commercials before settling in as a permanent member of the Sesame Street cast.

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