Katie Couric's Notebook: Sesame Street

When Sesame Street first premiered, 40 years ago today, its make-believe neighborhood was pretty rough around the edges.

The buildings were dingy. Trash cans lined the street. And Cookie Monster not only gobbled fistfuls of cookies but occasionally smoked a pipe.

Now the set's been spruced up. Cookie Monster calls cookies a "sometime" food. And the mood is decidedly more Elmo than Oscar the Grouch.

The show has changed so much that DVDs of the early episodes now carry a warning that they might not be suitable for today's kids.

Yet despite its new image, the show's themes of tolerance and learning persist. In the Middle East, a version broadcast in Hebrew and Arabic brought peaceful giggles in the 1990s. In South Africa, an HIV-positive Muppet helped de-stigmatize the disease.

Sesame Street has always been ahead of its time. It's a window into the world of children, a place where everything's A-okay, and has been for 40 years.

So Happy Anniversary Sesame Street!

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.

  • Katie Couric

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