Michelle Obama’s “Waffles + Mochi” Teaches Kids The Importance Of Healthy Eating

Former first lady Michelle Obama is teaming up with Netflix and some puppet friends to educate children about food and healthy ingredients.

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Michelle Obama is no stranger to creating television programs aimed at getting kids to lead a healthier lifestyle. Her initial youth nutrition initiative, “Let’s Move!” taught kids and their parents how we can work together to combat childhood obesity and improve on school lunches throughout the nation. Now, she’s taking on a more creative approach and inviting in Waffles and Mochi, two puppet characters that explore the world for healthy ingredients. 

The show was created by Erika Thormaklen and Jeremy Konner, who also directs some of the episodes alongside Alex Braverman, who describes the show as an “instructive, puppet-human collaboration that emulates the formula of Sesame Street but applied to nutritional and culinary literacy, with a dash of childlike whimsy.”

Michelle Zamora is the puppeteer who gives life to Waffles, a half-yeti, half frozen Eggos creature that has waffles for ears, who also helps translate for his buddy Mochi, a palm-sized puppet version of the popular Japanese desert who communicates through cute wordless sounds. The duo come from the “land of frozen foods” and are making their way through a neighborhood grocery store in New York where they aspire to get jobs sorting food. It’s here that they meet Mrs. O, better known as Michelle Obama, who plays the friendly neighbor accompanied by a busy bee friend.

Each of the 10 episodes focus on a different base ingredient, from produce such as tomatoes, mushrooms and corn to pantry staples including salt, herbs & spices, rice, pickles and water.”

Waffles and Mochi are able to travel all around the world using their magic shopping cart which also allows them to explore different cultures and the many healthy ingredients that they use at the base of their meals. They visit a multitude of diverse places such as Peru, California, Japan, and so much more!

The puppets are able to visit some of the world’s best chefs on their journey, including “Samin Nostrat of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, who instructs on tomatoes, while José Andrés endearingly whips up gazpacho while dancing. The travels wrap with a generally unassailable lesson from Mrs O – on moderation and trusting one’s taste (salt), for example, or patience (pickles), or how families, to put it in kids speak, come in all shapes, sizes and color (rice AKA Mochi’s lineage),” according to a review from the Guardian.

The show also features a ton of side lessons meant to appeal to kids such as the animation of taste buds to show off their individual personalities and how each works to enhance a different flavor. Another fun example gives the story of Ben Franklin rescuing the reputation of the potato in the 1700s.

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“It’s hard to fault a program that teaches kids to approach the foods they eat with curiosity, inclusiveness and a dose of background knowledge.”

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The episodes move quickly and often jump from segment-to-segment like most children television shows in order to keep up with the short attention spans that most children have, especially now that they’ve been indoors for over a year. 

According to Guardian writer/ television reviewer Adrian Horton, when the show is “taken as a whole, it embodies the many peaks and occasional valleys of the Obamas’ brand of liberalism – a diverse cast emphasizing inclusion, earnest and optimistic in tone, though generally riding on the assumption that nutrition is more a matter of choice than access.”

The show also offers historical lessons on how certain populations of people were brought to America by force to grow things like rice and other goods for wealthier individuals. The show walks along the line of childhood fun and stark reality with every episode. 

The show itself aims to teach kids to be curious about what they’re putting into their bodies, and not to accept things at face value. It also wants to motivate kids to read up on the things their interested in, especially things that will benefit their own lives and make them healthier individuals overall. Waffles and Mochi is currently streaming on Netflix.