Sunday, August 03, 2014

Hooper's Store

A now for a totally different subject, a little bit of Americana:

Many of us with children--and our children--recall Hooper's Store on Sesame Street. Wikipedia summarizes:

The fictional store was said to be founded by Mr. Harold Hooper in 1951 as a general store. The food menu was extensive and suited to the different characters that lived on Sesame Street, a fictional Manhattan street. Along with traditional American diner-type food, the store sold a wide range of goods from dry goods to soap dishes and stranger goods such as empty cigar boxes (in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street) and birdseed milkshakes for Big Bird.

I recently learned the origin of this concept.  The set designer for the program was from Massachusetts where he had lived near Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Trask House on Union Street across from the Public Library.  As noted here:

The house was built in 1823 by local businesswoman Abigail Hooper, who ran a thriving general store and millinery shop on the premises.  That same year, Abigail married Captain Richard Trask, one of Manchester’s most prominent merchant ship captains, who had lucrative trade relationships with England and Russia.

The set designer decided Sesame Street should also have an old-fashioned general store like Hooper's, and the rest is history.

A friend of mine who purchased the store several years ago and owned it for a while reports that it carried all kinds of items, like this axle grease.  Also, when prominent families (like the Bundy's) would plan to come back to summer in Manchester, they would contact the store to have their houses set up with supplies.  These would be delivered in wooden crates that had been used to send inventory to the store.  Like these:

So the idea of stocking empty cigar boxes in Sesame Street's Hooper's Store is not so improbable after all!

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