Michael Davis knows how to get to Sesame Street. No, he can’t actually give you directions to the fictional block, whose inhabitants have all but raised two generations of kids, but he can tell you how it went from an idea—could Madison Avenue techniques sell counting and reading?—to a global phenomenon. In his new book, Street Gang, Davis gives a warts-and-all history of the Street. And there are warts, CNN reports.
The original "Gordon" couldn’t handle the spotlight, "David" struggled with mental illness, and the show’s main songwriters had a truly vicious rivalry. But none of that distracted from the show’s core goal: education. “The idea they came up with was kind of radical,” says one pop culture professor. “If you can sell kids sugared cereal using Madison Avenue techniques, why couldn’t you use the same techniques for teaching? And it works.”