The new DVD release of Sesame Street, the original episodes, comes packaged with the warning that the shows are only intended for grownups.
I was an early bloomer, precocious to a fault, so I guess I was not harmed watching these very episodes when I was merely 4 or 5 years old.
According to production executives, you just could not create these characters today. Ernie is too dumb, Bert is too excited (Ritalin takes care of his kind now), Oscar, well, that guy is too depressed and should be on Prozac. Big Bird was obviously taking drugs and hallucinating about Snuffleupagus (until 1985, when the show started to become more PC and everyone was allowed to see him). Of course, kids talked to strangers, homelessness was glorified, cookies were consumed in dreadful quantities, leading to...well, not obesity, but I am sure to no good.
The article makes an interesting side note that the show was originally targeted to inner city children, and 99% of kids in such neighborhoods watched, while only 80% of kids in predominately suburban neighborhoods did. I believe the idea was to create education and escape from the inner city, a VERY 1960s-70s ideal.
So sad that we sanitize everything these days, especially a show meant for the greater good and charmingly educational and creative.