Elmo seems to have taken the toddler world by storm. Insanely popular, and infectiously cute and cuddly, the little red Muppet is loved by toddlers across the globe, and best believe, he loves everyone back ten fold! Every holiday season, Elmo dolls, toys, kids clothing and accessories top the gift charts, and the trend doesn’t look like it’s fading any time soon. We look back at the history of the furry little guy, to find out why Elmo is so popular with children.
When one thinks of the children’s television series “Sesame Street,” the first thing that comes to mind is the famous Sesame Street Muppets. Back in the day however, the most popular Muppets were not the most popular Muppets of today. For decades the show’s protagonist Big Bird led the pack, followed closely by his friends Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Cookie monster, Count Von Count… and a little red monster named Elmo.
Though he was not always the most well-known or popular Muppet, Elmo has been around from the early days. Introduced in 1979, Elmo originally went by the name of “Little Monster” and enjoyed moderate success as a cute three-and-a-half year old red furry monster, until in 1983, puppeteer and voice actor Kevin Clash began to perform the role as Elmo’s voice. With his new voice, Elmo became a Muppets phenomenon, and the makers of Sesame Street began to develop his character.
These days, if you are the parent of a toddler, chances are you are all too familiar with the furry red Muppet with the high-pitched voice and infectious laugh, who refers to himself in the third person. Not only does Elmo feature in numerous kids DVDs that your child watches over and over again, but he now also hosts his own segment at the end of Sesame Street, entitled “Elmo’s World.” You might be starting to tire of Elmo’s relentless enthusiasm and crazy laugh, but before you send him to the naughty corner so you can catch a breather from the chaos of Elmo’s World, consider the reasons your toddler is so very enamored by him.
Elmo’s character was created to be entertaining for toddlers. At three-and-a-half years old, Elmo is a toddler himself! He speaks in a childish high-pitched voice, and shares the same thoughts and ideas as any average toddler. He is constantly exploring his surroundings and learning new things. The simplicity of Elmo’s character appeals to toddlers because they can relate to him on their own level. Don’t you wish your life were as simple as Elmo’s?
For Elmo, the world is one huge play yard. He bounces around life, laughing and discovering and embracing every new challenge with wonder and excitement. This attitude to life may be annoying on an adult, especially when most of us are overwhelmed with work, going to school, paying bills, dieting and trying to hold a family together. But on Elmo, this innocent wonder and excitement is endearing and inspiring.
We defy you not to find Elmo just a tad bit cute and cuddly. His red fur and big bright eyes, his giggle that won’t quit and his cute little voice, is enough to make you want to engage in a tickle fight with him! In fact - tickling is one thing that Elmo is particularly fond of. The hugely successful “Tickle Me Elmo” doll made its USA debut in 1996, selling like hotcakes its first year out. Since then, there have been several versions of the much-loved toy, each as well received as the last.
Elmo is a lot of fun. He sings, he is bouncy and good-humored, he acts the fool, he makes us laugh, he can make a game out of anything, and he makes mistakes and turns them into learning experiences… Bottom line, Elmo keeps kids entertained. Sometimes, parents just need a break, and if a furry red monster can keep their child entertained for a couple of hours on repeat - frankly, that furry red monster is a blessing.
Elmo isn’t like the other Muppets. He is always happy and always giggling and he speaks a language all his own. He’s not a big fan of pronouns, preferring to refer to himself in the third person. In March of 2010 his twitter feed read, “Someone just told Elmo yesterday was Talk in Third Person Day. Elmo doesn't know what that is but it sounds fun. Can Elmo play?”
Elmo Loves You!
Finally, and most importantly, the main reason kids love Elmo is that he loves everyone else! He really does. He tells us all the time. So next time you hear that high-pitched voice squeak: “Elmo Loves You!” Don’t fight it… just love him back.