Sesame Street’s most notable puppet has gotten the internet going bananas after a clip of him cheffin’ it up on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon goes viral. The six year old cooking segment’s resurgence is endearing, and shows a saucier side of Chef Elmo—no pun intended.
During his breakdown of the ingredients that he was using in his dish, Elmo slipped up and let his New Yorker accent slide out. He is from Sesame Street, which is a fictional street in the very real city of NY. While naming what he was cooking with, Elmo put an extra umph in the way he said “balsamic vinegar,” pronouncing it like “balsamic vineguh” as if he was from the Bronx.
“I’ve been dying laughing at Elmo saying “balsamic vinega” all day. The Bronx jumped out,” someone tweeted.
At least that’s what many fellow New Yorkers noted about Elmo’s enunciation. Since the Chef Elmo clip has recirculated, Elmo has received even more cool points, prompting many people of color to inquire about his cultural background. Although Elmo is a Muppet, and Muppets are anthropomorphic beings, he is still being claimed by members of the Black community.
“Balsamic Vinegá. Das a big word for Elmo” y’all can’t tell me Elmo ain’t a black man!,” one person tweeted.
People are even going as far as giving Elmo the street name “Big El.”
“They calling Elmo Big El now cus of that balsamic vinegar video,” someone tweeted.
The assumption is partially right, since the original voice of Elmo from 1984-2012 was done by a Black puppeteer named Kevin Clash. Elmo’s new voice is done by a white puppeteer named Ryan Dillon. Clash set the tone for the Elmo character, and Dillon is continuing that tone—maintaining the lovable New York energy that sometimes radiates through Elmo.