“One!” was the first official tweet by what Sesame Street character?

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Published January 11, 2024

Duh! is a weekly column that gives circuitous answers to obvious questions. If you dig it, you can find 100 more of these essays in the Geeks Who Drink book, Duh!.

“Count Von Count bears a comical resemblance to Count Dracula,” according to his profile on the Sesame Workshop site, “but that is where the similarity ends.” So right off the bat (ha), we feel like this bears some investigation. Here are some weird things that Count Dracula did in his debut, Bram Stoker’s 1897 masterpiece1 Dracula:

  • Crawled around the outside of his castle, like a lizard. “He moved downwards in a sidelong way, some hundred feet down, and a good deal to the left. He vanished into some hole or window.”
  • Stowed away, in the form of a big dog, on a ship that wrecked in North Yorkshire. “…Strangest of all, the very instant the shore was touched, an immense dog sprang up on deck from below, as if shot up by the concussion, and running forward, jumped from the bow on the sand.”
  • Said to Jonathan Harker, “You will need, after your journey, to refresh yourself by making your toilet.” We’re assured this was a pretty normal thing to say at the time, but still.

Meanwhile, Count Von Count… counts. That’s pretty much all there is to his character, because he’s purely the product of a pun on the name Count Dracula. But coincidentally enough, vampire traditions from Macedonia to China have insisted that vampires are obsessed with counting small things. You can throw one off your trail, they say, by scattering some seeds2 or throwing down a fishing net (because it has lots of holes).

So the Count is inadvertently carrying on a rich global tradition. But more immediately (and hilariously), he’s been annoying everyone with his counting of things – including the famously obsessive Bert – from his very first appearance in 1972:

Is the Count canonically a vampire? The answer is “maybe, sometimes, and definitely less so than originally.” In fact, that question became a sticking point from the very beginning. According to a 2023 profile of creator Norman Stiles on Polygon, certain parents were immediately concerned about the appearance of a vampire on Sesame Street, with one even calling him an “agent of the devil.” But common sense prevailed: Grown-ups may know that vampires are creepy, undead, vaguely erotic bloodsuckers, but kids just see a lavender puppet with a funny accent. No harm, no foul.3

And the proof is right there in front of our faces: That lavender puppet is still annoying his puppet friends, 52 years later. Fifty-two! Ah ah ah!

  1. Contrary to popular belief, Stoker did write some other things, mostly romance novels. They include Miss Betty (1898), whose most interesting feature is that its main characters are named Betty Pole and Rafe Otwell; and The Man (1905), which, despite its title, stars a woman named Stephen… and that’s the most interesting thing about it.
  2. Most commonly mustard seed, according to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which also points out that mustard seed is sometimes called “eye of newt.” Naturally, that reminds us of Macbeth… and sure enough, all of those creepy potion ingredients – toe of frog and tongue of dog and whatnot – are really just different herbs and flowers and shit. Some “weird sisters” they turned out to be.
  3. Unless you think it’s harmful to teach kids not to fear vampires, which, hard to disagree there.