The word ‘cookie’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘koekje’, which meant “small or little cake.
In 1966, Henson drew three monsters who appeared in a General Foods commercial that featured three crunchy snack foods: Wheels, Crowns and Flutes. Each snack was represented by a different monster. The Wheel-Stealer was a short, fuzzy monster with wonky eyes and sharply pointed teeth. The Flute-Snatcher was a speed demon with a long, sharp nose and windblown hair. The Crown-Grabber was a hulk of a monster with a Boris Karloff accent and teeth that resembled giant knitting needles.
"These monsters had insatiable appetites for the snack foods they were named after. Each time the Muppet narrator, a human-looking fellow, fixes himself a tray of Wheels, Flutes and Crowns, they disappear before he can eat them. One by one, the monsters sneak in and zoom away with the snacks. Frustrated and peckish, the narrator warns viewers that these pesky monsters could be disguised as someone in your own home, at which point the monsters briefly turn into people and then dissolve back to monsters again."
As it turns out, these commercials were never aired—but all three monsters had a future in the Muppet cast. The Crown-Grabber was used in an Ed Sullivan Show sketch, in which he ruins a girl's beautiful day. Known from then on as the Beautiful Day Monster, he made a number of appearances on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. The Flute-Snatcher turned into Snake Frackle, a background monster from The Great Santa Claus Switch and The Muppet Show.
And then there's the Wheel-Stealer, who was destined for greater things.
In 1967, Henson used the Wheel-Stealer puppet for an IBM training film called "The Coffee Break Machine." In the sketch, the monster (with pointed fangs) devoured a complex machine as the machine described its purpose and construction. His greed gets the better of him, however, as the machine's recording continues (within his stomach), announcing that it is wired to self-destruct. The monster promptly explodes. This sketch was also performed in October 1967 on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Two years later, Henson pulled the puppet out of the box again for three commercials selling Munchos, a Frito-Lay potato chip. This time, the puppet was called Arnold. After the three ads were produced, Henson had the opportunity to renew the contract. He chose not to, because at that point he was working on Sesame Street.
Cookie Monster's birthday is November 2nd.
Unlike most other Muppets of Sesame Street, Cookie Monster has four fingers and a thumb.