Sesame Street, the show that has taught several generations of suburban white kids how to ask where the potty is in Spanish, is introducing a new Muppet this Sunday in a special episode about hunger, sponsored by Wal-Mart. Lily, the "food-insecure" Muppet, is seven years old, pink-faced, dressed in what appears to be a pajama-sack, and will be rapping with Brad Paisley about not having enough Muppet-grub to fill her fuzzy pink belly. (No word yet on whether Lily will show her new pals how to use an EBT card, or make ketchup soup at a gas station.)
But if Sesame Street really wants to stir the troubled soup-kettle of food issues, it needs a wider spectrum of social-issue-pimping puppets. Here's our top five list of the new Muppets that Sesame Street should be hungry to create:
5. Leonard, the lactose-intolerant Muppet. Being unable to properly digest dairy is a problem for many folks, and Leonard can demonstrate why his sans-dairy life is harder than most people realize. He can watch wistfully as the other Muppets cram ice cream and mozzarella sticks into their gaping, red-felt mouths, cry for a minute or two, then defiantly down a frozen yogurt cone and sing a song about beating the odds. Leonard could be a semi-recurring character on the show, because his dairy defiance will send him running for the baño more times than the Count can keep up with.
4. Vicki, the vegan Muppet. Vicki will love carrots, beets and being smug. Vicki will have dreds, ride an eco-friendly moped, lecture Oscar the Grouch about his trash can filled with discarded chicken bones, and steal Big Bird's birdseed to make muffins. She's going steady with Elmo, and will threaten to hit him with a biodegradable stick if he even thinks about licking a piece of beef jerky.
3. Fredrico, the food-snob Muppet.
Nobody on Sesame Street will really like Fredrico. When he dines at Mr. Hooper's store, he will order hot tea, ask for everything on the side, and bitch about there not being enough organic produce. He'll also have his own tiny Muppet-Blackberry to Yelp about how lousy the service is at the counter. Eventually Oscar will physically assault him with a spatula.
2. Penelope, the peanut-allergy Muppet.
Penelope is allergic to nuts, and while palling around with Bert and Ernie, Ernie will accidentally give her Bert's PB&J instead of her egg salad sandwich. Hijinks will ensue, and the whole Sesame Street gang will get to sing an impromptu song about how to use an Epi-pen while Telly nervously injects Penelope with epinephrine, and they'll all wave goodbye as the ambulance takes her to the Muppet hospital.
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1. Ollie, the childhood obesity Muppet. Plump, jolly Ollie will spend his time on the Street gobbling up all the cookies that Cookie Monster no longer gets, and while Cookie Monster sings a sad song about deprivation, Ollie and Lily will hatch a plan to abduct Snuffy, stuff him with cornbread and oysters, and roast his shaggy haunches over Oscar's trash-can fire. It will be a Sesame Street block party, with everyone singing a song about problem-solving while Lily finally gets a decent meal, and brings the leftovers home to her poverty-stricken family.