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Beer Commercials Secretly Created ‘Sesame Street,’ New Documentary Says

The ear-worm jingles of 'Sesame Street' may never have happened without beer.

Sesame Workshop

Remember when kids used to sing along to beer commercials? If you’re approaching 40, the answer is probably a big yes, and even those of us who grew up in the ’90 remember those Budweiser frogs. But, before those frogs, a wholesome set of Muppets was fully inspired by beer jingles of a bygone era.

A forthcoming documentary called Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and in it, there’ a big revelation about the basic origin of Sesame Street itself. As reported by The Daily Beast, media producer Joan Ganz Cooney, pointed out that back in the day, it was common for children to be singing the jingles from beer commercials, whether parents wanted them to or not.

“Every child in America was singing beer commercials. Now where did they learn beer commercials?” she says. “The answer, of course, was television. They were walking into supermarkets and identifying products after seeing commercials on TV. Kids adored the medium, so why not see if it could educate them?”

The idea that TV could be used as a medium to educate children might be a forgone conclusion now, but prior to 1969, that simply wasn’t the case. What made Sesame Street successful then (and now) is that it embraced the way in which TV communicated ideas as products, but instead of selling something like beer, they decided to sell information.

If you’re ever wondered why Sesame Street songs were catchy-as-hell, it turns out there was some Mad Men-level advertising brainstorming behind the scenes. This, on some level, would make Frank Oz the behind-the-scenes Don Draper of Sesame Street, which, honestly, is something we’d like to see.

Street Gang is set to hit HBO Max sometime later this year.