When Sesame Street first hit the air in 1969, who could have predicted the impact the show and its characters would have on our children and on our culture as a whole? Always cutting-edge and always kid-centered, Sesame Street has never been afraid of tackling sensitive subjects and has been at the forefront of teaching to the whole child.
And over the decades, Sesame Street has created some of the most beloved characters of all time. These characters have become friends and mentors to our little ones, teaching them much more than just ABCs and 123s. They’ve taught about different cultures, different languages, and what makes a family. They’ve taught about friendship, conflict resolution, accepting differences in people, and the glorious diversity and beauty of the big wide world. Most of all, they’ve created a place where everyone is welcome and loved. All this from puppets with bright fuzzy fur, googly eyes, bulbous noses, and ridiculous voices!
We were curious to see what their prime audience had to say so we reached out to a few amazing teachers who surveyed a total of 100 preschool and kindergarten students. Each child choose their top five favorite Sesame Street characters. Here’s who came out on top, ranked in order by greatest to least votes. Plus check out the adorable kid quotes about why they chose each character.
1. (tie) Elmo
“He is sweet, happy and fun.” —Tyler, age 5
Sweet and funny, Elmo is the quintessential preschooler. With his bright-red fur and bulbous orange nose, he has delighted generations of kids with his infectious giggle. He is endlessly curious and up for an adventure. It’s no wonder he’s tied for the most beloved Sesame Street character according to kids.
1. (tie) Cookie Monster
“I like cookies and he LOVES cookies.” —Jeremiah, age 5
With bulging googly eyes and a fluffy blue coat, rambunctious Cookie Monster has an insatiable appetite for cookies—any and all cookies. All the time. Known by his signature catchphrase, “Me want cookie,” preschoolers can’t get enough of his nom-nom noshing, cookie crumbs spewing in all directions.
“He is cute and I like his colors.” —Destiny, age 5
Adorably fluffy, with a brown patch over one eye, Tango is Elmo’s furry best friend and co-star of Elmo and Tango’s Mysterious Mysteries.
3. (tie) Oscar the Grouch
“He’s so silly, he makes me laugh.” —Nico, age 5
With his rumpled green fur and fuzzy brown eyebrows, Oscar the Grouch is cantankerous and perpetually annoyed. Despite his gruff disposition, there is one thing he loves more than anything in the world: trash!
3. (tie) Abby Cadabby
“She’s my favorite because I’ve always wanted to fly.” —Paisyn, age 5
Abby Cadabby, whose name is a play on “abracadabra,” is a pint-sized fairy whose magical powers include popping in and out of thin air, floating when she is happy, and turning objects into pumpkins. Elmo’s best friend, Abby can speak fluent Dragonfly and Butterfly.
4. Baby Bear
“He’s cute and nice.” —preschooler, age 4
Baby Bear, of Goldilocks fame, first appeared on Sesame Street when he brought his broken chair to Luis and Maria’s fix-it shop. Best friend of Telly with a fondness for porridge, Baby Bear (like many little ones) speaks with a charming speech impediment that softens his R’s to W’s.
5. Count Von Count
“He counts all the numbers.” —Kamari, age 4
Violet-hued Count Von Count, a kid-friendly parody of Count Dracula, LOVES counting. Cheerful and friendly, he is never happier than when enumerating any collection of items. Once accomplished, a crack of thunder and his signature “Ah-ha-ha” staccato laugh seal his satisfaction.
“She shows me that everyone is special.” —Ella, age 4
Julia was introduced to Sesame Street in 2015 as the first autistic character to join the ensemble. With bright-orange hair and big green eyes framed by luxurious lashes, she is fast friends with Elmo and Abby and loves her stuffed bunny Fluffster.
7. Big Bird
“He is yellow and that’s my favorite color.” —Blake, age 6
Eight feet two inches and covered in fluffy yellow feathers, Big Bird is a mainstay of the Sesame Street cast. Ever lovable and curious, Big Bird can skate, swim, sing, dance, write poetry, draw, and even ride a unicycle.
8. (tie) Rosita
“She speaks Spanish, like me!” —preschooler, age 4
Fluent in both English and Spanish, Rosita is the first bilingual character on Sesame Street. She comes from Mexico and loves to play her guitar. In addition to providing the Spanish word of the day, Rosita is also good at history and geography.
8. (tie) Bert
“He is so funny and grumpy.” —Rex, age 5
In contrast to his outgoing, practical-joking roommate Ernie, Bert is serious, fastidious, and often frustrated by the friends’ perpetual miscommunications. With an impressive unibrow and bleating laugh, his sincerity and good-guy persona have made him a fan favorite for decades.
9. (tie) Ernie
“He has a happy face.” —Pedro, age 4
With his signature striped shirt and mussy tuft of black hair, Ernie is the picture of innocence. Always up for a good practical joke, Ernie loves tubbies and his yellow rubber duckie.
9. (tie) Grover
“He is my favorite color and is a good friend.” —Matthew, age 5
Self-described as lovable, cute, and furry, Grover speaks with a unique formality. Bright blue with long gangly arms and a bright-pink, egg-shaped schnoz, Grover is exuberant and adventurous, especially in his superhero alter ego.
10. (tie) Gonger
“He likes to cook and so do I!” —Linda, age 5
With fluffy wafts of bright-pink fur and turquoise blue nose, Gonger performs his duties as head chef of best friend Cookie Monster’s Foodie truck with an unparalleled level of energy. Prone to quick emotional outbursts, he always rallies to gain composure.
10. (tie) Zoe
“Zoe is funny and does funny dances.” —Rose, age 5
Zoe is an energetic 3-year-old with an active imagination, a strong will, and loads of confidence. She loves to dance and sign and has a pet rock named, what else, Rocco.
11. (tie) Gabrielle
“She looks like my teacher.” —kindergartner, age 5
With her signature pom-pom ponytails and bright-pink eye shadow, Gabriel brings sass to the Sesame Street lineup. As a member of the Power of We Club along with her cousin Tamir, she offers valuable insights into conversations about racism.
11. (tie) Snuffy
“He has a long nose like an elephant.” —Adam, age 5
First introduced as Big Bird’s imaginary friend, it turns out Snuffy (aka Mr. Aloysius Snuffleupagus) was just shy. Snuffy’s favorite foods are cabbage and spaghetti, and he drinks sassafras tea. Despite his lumbering girth, he frequently engages in snuffy-cise and even once tap-danced with Gregory Hines.
“He’s funny when he gets in trouble.” —Darragh, age 5
Adorable little Muppet Rudy is Abby’s 3-year-old bilingual stepbrother. Bright orange with big innocent eyes and blue chenille dreads, Rudy loves to tag along with the kids in the neighborhood.
13. (tie) Tamir
“He makes things and helps his mom.” —Fiadh, age 4
Eight-year-old Tamir is Gabrielle’s cousin and producer of his own web series, “Tamir on the Street.” In his spare time, he loves to create videos and computer games with his dad.
13. (tie) Telly
“He’s SO cute.” —Hannah, age 5
Bright fuchsia with electric-blue eyelids, Telly Monster is intense and earnest, and he worries about just about everything. His favorite shape is the triangle, and Baby Bear is his best friend.