Question: I am having an intense debate with a friend of mine, so please settle this! I say that the only one who ever saw Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street was Big Bird. I think this was changed at least 10 or 15 years ago because Sesame Street didn't want kids to think adults wouldn't believe them if they told them about secrets like child abuse, just as no one believed Big Bird. My friend thinks I am crazy! Thanks!
Answer: Y'know, if you think about it, you're Big Bird in this situation, Ilyse. How's the view from up there?
Rest easy, my feathered friend your sanity is no longer in question. From the time he was introduced in 1971, Snuffleupagus was visible only to Big Bird. But in late 1985, the creative forces behind the thoroughly wonderful Street did indeed reveal Snuffy, as his pals call him, to all on the show. To be honest, my own television powers didn't reveal the setup to me, but a spokesperson for Sesame Workshop (formerly Children's Television Workshop) told me that in a particularly poignant episode, Big Bird informed Snuffy they could no longer be friends because the grown-ups had convinced him his pachyderm buddy didn't exist. When Snuffy began to cry, Big Bird realized the tears were real. And if the tears were real, well then....
And you're also correct in the reason behind it. "In this day of child abuse," executive producer Dulcy Singer told the Los Angeles Times in 1985, "we felt it important for children to feel they could talk to adults and be believed. We didn't want to do anything to discourage children from going to their parents."
And my thanks to you, Ilyse, for this answer was touching enough to make me cry real tears, which finally convinced my coworkers that I, too, exist so they'll need another excuse for not inviting me to the office Christmas party.