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If You Thought "Tickle Me Elmo" Was a Craze, Just Wait for "Eat Me Low-Fat Cheese"

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There's going to be some strange-looking characters loitering around the stoops of Sesame Street next week. A piece of broccoli, a banana in spectacles, a wedge of low-fat cheese, and a big-mouthed multigrain bagel.

These are the "Superfoods", a gang of Muppets scheduled to make their television debut next Wednesday, December 8th.

The puppets will go on to play a star role in Sesame Workshop's latest outreach program, Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget, backed by the Merck Company Foundation and UnitedHealthcare.

The goal -- if the program's title didn't say it-- is to provide free information to cash-strapped families otherwise tempted by fast food and its supermarket-sourced equivalents.

According to a 2009 U.S. Department of Agriculture paper, some 17 million American children—nearly one in four—are food insecure, a jargon-y way to say the kids are not receiving meals that meets basic nutritional needs because of family finances. Of these children, more than half (9.6 million) are under the age of six.

With Food For Thought, Sesame Workshop has created 400,000 bilingual kits containing a DVD with the new Muppets story and other features. The kits will be distributed across the U.S. and made available online via iTunes and Amazon.

A bonus for all: Celebrity chef Art Smith makes an appearance, offering tips on how to stretch a meal without adding empty calories.

For their small screen promotion, however, the Superfoods will team up with celebrity Muppet Elmo.

Time magazine reports that in next week's episode of Sesame Street, "Elmo decides to try a new food more than once.

"What is that food? Does the furry, red icon like it? Tune in to find out."

Okay, but let's just hope the newbies on the Street don't run into this fellow:


or this guy,


or this woman --


who's likely to see Big Gov pulling the strings. (This is PBS after all.)
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