the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady at Sesame Workshop Licensing & Let's Move! Announcement

State Dining Room

2:44 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you, everyone.  (Applause.)  Good afternoon.  Well, welcome to the White House.  I'm thrilled to have you all here today.

As many of you know, last month, we held the first ever White House Convening on food marketing for children.  And I stood in this exact room in this exact same spot with representatives from America’s leading companies and organizations.  And I issued a simple challenge:  I challenged those leaders to market food more responsibly to our children.  I challenged them to use creative, innovative marketing strategies to get our kids excited about healthy foods.   

And today, just six weeks later, it is no surprise that Sesame Workshop was the first organization to answer this call.  Because that, more than anything else, is Sesame Workshop’s mission:  To help our kids learn and grow and fulfill every last bit of their potential.

And that’s why, nearly a decade ago, Sesame Workshop created their Healthy Habits for Life initiative to teach kids about healthy eating and exercise.  And that is why, today, they’re taking the unprecedented step of letting America’s produce companies use Sesame Street Muppet characters to get kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables, and they’re doing this free of charge.  Yes!  (Laughter and applause.)  Free!  Yes, Mel, free.  (Applause.)  Right here in the pocketbook.  Like that.  (Laughter.)

This is a huge deal, and I want to take a moment to express my appreciation to Mel Ming and everyone from Sesame Workshop for everything they are doing for our children.  You guys are phenomenal, and it is always a pleasure and an honor to work with you.

I also want to thank Larry at PHA for their work on this initiative and so many other important initiatives.  You all have been phenomenal, and I am so proud and so grateful.

And of course, I want to give a big thank you to Jan and to Bryan Silberman and the Produce Marketing Association.  Their members are already hard at work preparing to deploy the Sesame Street Muppet characters on behalf of fruits and vegetables.  You guys are ready to roll, that's good.  (Laughter.)  And these new efforts are so incredibly important, because right now, when it comes to marketing food to our kids, as you all know, the deck is stacked against healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. 

The average child watches thousands of food advertisements each year, and 86 percent of these ads are for products loaded with sugar, fat or salt.  By contrast, our kids see an average of just one ad -- just one ad -- a week for healthy products like water and fruits and vegetables.  Just one.  And the ads that our kids are seeing are highly effective, particularly those that feature the TV and movie characters that our children have come to love and adore. 

And you don’t have to take my word for it.  The research bares it out.  In one study, researchers gave children a choice between eating an apple, a cookie or both.  Surprisingly, the vast majority of kids went for the cookies.  I might do the same.  (Laughter.)  But when the researchers put Elmo stickers on the apples and let the kids choose again, nearly double the number of kids went for an apple.  That’s right, just that little Elmo sticker, the power of Elmo, was enough to get kids excited about eating a healthy snack. 

So just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store and they see the Sesame Street Muppets lining all over the produce aisle.  Just imagine.  Imagine.  (Laughter.)  Mel's eyes are like, oh, it's going to be good.  (Laughter.)  Just imagine what it's going to be like, moms and dads, when our kids are begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips.  It can happen.

That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about.  It’s about showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables just don't make us feel good, but they also taste good.  So this is a very important step forward.

But while Sesame Workshop and PMA might be the first to answer our call, there is plenty of work left to be done, and there are plenty of different ways to show leadership on this issue.  So I am looking forward to celebrating more companies and more organizations as they step up on behalf of our children.  

And today, we have a very special surprise.  I am thrilled to be joined by two furry friends from Sesame Street -- (laughter) -- who will be playing such an important role in this new effort.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Elmo and Rosita!  (Applause.) 

ROSITA:  Hola!

ELMO:  Hello, Hello Mrs. Obama!  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  It's great to see you.  Elmo, I love the tie.  You dressed up for our press conference.

ROSITA:  And I wore my pearls, my mom's pearls.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, my God, they're beautiful.

ELMO:  Can Elmo tell you a secret?

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, please.

ELMO:  It's a clip-on. 

MRS. OBAMA:  It's a -- oh, it's a clip-on.

ELMO:  It's a clip-on.

MRS. OBAMA:  So, how do you guys feel about getting kids pumped up and excited about eating healthy foods?

ELMO:  Oh, well, it’s wonderful.  Elmo loves healthy foods.  Yes, Elmo thinks that fruits and vegetables are delicious.

ROSITA:  Yes, sí, sí, sí, me, too.  And you know what?  They help us grow healthy and strong. Check out these muscles.

MRS. OBAMA:  Let me see your muscle.  Let me see it.

ELMO:  Oh, that's a giant muscle, Rosita.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  It’s mighty, mighty.  Oh, yes.  Oh, Elmo, oh, your muscle, too, is so powerful.

ROSITA:  Let me see your muscle.  Oh.  (Laughter.)  Wow, strong. 

ELMO:  You know, Elmo eats lots of fruits and vegetables every day, Mrs. Obama. 

MRS. OBAMA:  That's very good.

ROSITA:  Oh, that's wonderful, Elmo, because you know what?

ELMO:  What?

ROSITA:  Fruits and vegetables are anytime foods. 

MRS. OBAMA:  They are.

ROSITA:  You know what that means?

ELMO:  What?

ROSITA:  They're so good for you that you can eat them every single day.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  All the time.  All the time.

ELMO:  You know what Elmo loves about them, too?

MRS. OBAMA:  What?

ELMO:  They're very colorful.

MRS. OBAMA:  They are pretty.

ELMO:  Lots of different colors. 


ROSITA:  And the more colors you eat, the better.  Yes.

MRS. OBAMA:  Lots of colors are good.

ELMO:  It’s like a rainbow of food.

MRS. OBAMA:  A rainbow of food.

ROSITA:  Beautiful rainbow.

ELMO:  Can Mrs. Obama say it?  A rainbow of food.

MRS. OBAMA:  A rainbow of food.  (Laughter.)  It’s beautiful.

ELMO:  And even if some of the foods are foods that Elmo’s never tried before, Elmo likes to try new foods because they're so colorful.

MRS. OBAMA:  That's very good.  I’m so proud of you.

ROSITA:  Yo también.  Me, too. 

MRS. OBAMA:  Sí, sí. 

ELMO:  Yes, yes --

MRS. OBAMA:  Excellent.

ELMO:  And, Mrs. Obama?


ELMO:  What are some of your favorite foods?

ROSITA:  Yes, tell us.

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, I love sweet potatoes.  I love broccoli.  And you know what?  I love them when they're put on a pizza.  I love veggie pizza.

ELMO:  Now, wait a minute, wait a minute.

MRS. OBAMA:  What?

ELMO:  We’re talking about healthy foods here, and you’re going to put cheese on them?

ROSITA:  But it’s good.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Is that funny, Elmo? 

ELMO:  That's hilarious. 

MRS. OBAMA:  Veggie pizza is very healthy for you.

ROSITA:  Do you know how you say broccoli in Spanish?

ELMO:  How?


ROSITA:  Broccoli.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Broccoli.  That's excellent.  Well, these are all good foods, and we’re going to help kids learn to love all the fruits and vegetables.  In fact, we actually have many of these fruits and vegetables growing in our White House Kitchen Garden.  Yes.

ELMO:  Oh.

ROSITA:  Really?

MRS. OBAMA:  And guess what?

ELMO:  What?

MRS. OBAMA:  We’ve got a bunch of kids here today.  They are out there at the garden, and they're going to help us harvest our fruits and vegetables for the fall. 

ELMO:  Oh, really, really?

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, yes.

ELMO:  Wow.

MRS. OBAMA:  And then we’re going to cook a tasty meal for us all to share after we harvest the vegetables.

ELMO:  Oh, that's very exciting.

ROSITA:  Oh, oh, this is good.  Yes, yes!

MRS. OBAMA:  It’s going to be good.  It’s going to be good.  (Laughter.)  So here’s the thing -- do you guys want to help?

ROSITA:  Sí.  Pero, claro que sí.

MRS. OBAMA:  Do you want to come and help us harvest, and then eat with the kids?

ELMO:  That sounds wonderful.

MRS. OBAMA:  All right, well then, let’s get it done.

ROSITA:  Let’s get it done.

MRS. OBAMA:  Let’s Move.  Let’s Move.  Let’s Move. Let’s Move.  Let’s Move.  (Applause.)  All right, I’ll see you guys.  I’ll see you guys.  Bye.  (Applause.)

I have to go change to go out to the garden.  I've got to beat Elmo and Rosita.  But thank you all for the work that you're doing.  As you can see, we've got some good ambassadors right here.  I think this is going to help.

So, once again, thank you all, and we will see you soon.  At the next press conference, we're announcing the next initiative, correct?  All right, you all.  Take care.  (Applause.)  

2:54 P.M. EDT