10 Foreign ‘Sesame Street’ Muppets You May Have Never Heard Of
For over 40 years, The Muppets of ‘Sesame Street’ have been teaching children in the U.S. to read, count, recognize shapes and play well with others. Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and the rest are nationally known superstars. But kids in other countries have their own versions of ‘Sesame Street,’ complete with unique casts of loveable Muppets. Here are 10 characters who teach kids around the world.
Abelardo is the Big Bird equivalent for the Mexican show ‘Plaza Sésamo.’ He is a large parrot with the personality of an enthusiastic four-year-old.
Like his cousin Big Bird, Abelardo has evolved over the years from something of a birdbrain to a child learning along with the show’s audience. Many of the large avian characters from other Sesame shows are Big Bird’s cousins, but Abelardo is the only one who appeared on the U.S. version of “Sesame Street.”
Bluki appeared on the most recent version of ‘Barrio Sésamo,’ a Spanish ‘Sesame Street.’ He is a colorful character of indeterminate species, sporting a vest, wristwatch and propeller beanie. Like most Muppet protagonists on ‘Sesame Street’ and its international variations, Bluki is curious and eager to learn. Through the decades, children in Spain have seen three different versions of ‘Barrio Sésamo,’ each with a unique cast of Muppet characters.
Pferd and Wolle
Pferd (“horse”) and Wolle (“wool”) are best buddies on Germany’s ‘Sesamstrasse.’ Pferd is somewhat dim and loves to eat, especially carrots. Wolle is an imaginative sheep who considers himself the brains of the pair, but often proves no smarter than his piebald pal.
Pferd and Wolle are relatively new additions to the ‘Sesamstrasse’ cast, which has undergone numerous changes during the show’s 40-year run.
Stuntkip and Angsthaas
The Dutch ‘Sesamstraat’ is home to Stuntkip the chicken and Angsthaas the hare. Stuntkip is a chicken daredevil who takes on experiences that children might find frightening, such as getting a haircut or trying new foods. Angsthaas reports on Stuntkip’s exploits, but is too cowardly to copy her feats of bravery.
Both of these puppets had been used on ‘Sesame Street’ before making their ‘Sesamstraat’ debuts: Stuntkip was a generic chicken and Angsthaas is a modified version of the grumpy lagomorph Benny Rabbit.
Just as many versions of Big Bird populate the different ‘Sesame’ shows, numerous grouches makes streets around the world grouchier places to be. ‘Plaza Sésamo’ has Bodoque, ‘Sesamstrasse’ has Rumpel the Grouch and the Israeli series ‘Rechov Sumsum’ has Moishe Oofnik.
Moishe is Oscar’s cousin and shares Oscar’s love of the yucky. He lives in a broken car and brings a local sensibility to his grouchiness, preferring to dip his Rosh Hashanah apples in sardine oil rather than the traditional honey and enjoying the music of Itzhak Perlman on an out of tune violin.
There have been various Israeli ‘Sesame’ productions with different Muppet casts, but Moishe alone has appeared in every single one. (Watch him try to sell souvenirs to ‘Growing Pains’ star Jeremy Miller above.)
Haneen and Kareem
Palestine’s current Sesame show is called ‘Shara’a Simsim.’ Like many international versions of ‘Sesame Street,’ it mixes locally-produced content with dubbed scenes from the American ‘Sesame Street.’
Haneen and Kareem are two Muppets unique to ‘Shara’a Simsim.’ Haneen is a little girl monster with boundless optimism who loves soccer and pretending to be a superhero. Kareem is a proud and intelligent rooster who reads voraciously and keeps careful track of the time.
Kami is a monster from the South African ‘Takalani Sesame.’ She is described as affectionate, fun and a little but shy. She is also HIV-positive.
HIV/AIDS has been an enormous issue in South Africa and Kami teaches children about the disease in a kid-friendly way while reducing some of the stigmas surrounding HIV-positive people.
The main Muppet character of France’s ‘5, Rue Sésame’ is big and yellow, but he’s not a bird. Nac is a monster with a big nose and a habit of sneezing when he feels frustrated.
Though ‘5, Rue Sésame’ has no big birds, its predecessor ‘1, Rue Sésame’ starred Tocatta the oversized albatross.
The Indian ‘Sesame Street,’ ‘Galli Galli Sim Sim,’ is a relatively new addition to the catalogue of international Sesame Workshop co-productions. Debut characters included Boombah the lion who loves Indian folk music, Chamki the schoolgirl who is curious about other cultures and Aanchoo, a friendly purple monster.
Like Nac, Aanchoo is known for her sneeze, which causes her to teleport. The show’s second season introduced additional Muppet friends, among them a pair of sheep, a local Grouch and even a Muppet Bollywood star.
Another newcomer among the ‘Sesame’ shows is ‘Sesame Tree,’ which airs in Northern Ireland and integrates messages of respect for each others’ differences in with the standard letters and numbers.
One of the newer members of the ‘Sesame Tree’ Muppets is Archie. Archie is a cute bespectacled squirrel who loves counting and measuring.