What you didn't know about the Muppets

It seems like all my friends saw THE MUPPETS this past weekend, and the fact that these are friends whose ages range from 24 – 35 is a testament to the broad and timeless appeal of Jim Henson’s legacy. I’m slightly cursing him though because I’ve had the song “Mahna Mahna” stuck on repeat in my head (and now it’s stuck in yours). I didn’t know until recently that the original song, written by Piero Umiliania, first debuted in the decidedly kid unfriendly Italian film SWEDEN: HEAVEN AND HELL. I also didn’t know that Oscar the Grouch was originally orange before the color of his fur was changed to green in the second season. The explanation given was that Oscar “went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight,” which is subversively disturbing if you think about it. Was that a toxic swamp filled with mutated frogs as a result of illegal chemical dumping by an evil corporation? These are the kind of hard hitting questions that Big Bird needs to be asking on Sesame Street.

Mental Floss highlight other Muppets from international versions of Sesame Street, like Bluki, who’s described as “the physical manifestation of a bad drug trip,” or Oscar the Grouch’s Israeli cousin, Moishe Oofnik (it means grouch in Hebrew). Then there’s Zobi, the Nigerian version of Cookie Monster, who’s obsessed with yams. Yes, yams. It seems like a weird choice, but “since not many Nigerian children have access to cookies, the producers decided to give Zobi an insatiable craving for one of the country’s staple foods. He often shouts out, ‘Me eat yam!’” Cute, right?