The First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama announced Wednesday that the nonprofit organization behind the popular children’s educational TV program will let the produce industry use Elmo, Big Bird and Sesame Street‘s other furry characters free of charge to market fruits and veggies to kids.

The goal is to get children who often turn up their noses at the sight of produce to eat more of it. Under the arrangement, Sesame Workshop is waiving the licensing fee for its Muppet characters for two years.

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As soon as next spring, shoppers and children accompanying them can expect to see their favorite Sesame Street characters on stand-alone signs and on stickers and labels on all types of produce regardless of whether it comes in a bag, a carton or just its skin.

The first lady cited a study published last fall in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in which Cornell University researchers gave more than 200 boys and girls ages 8 to 11 the choice of eating an apple, a cookie or both. Most kids went for the cookie. Asked to choose again after researchers put Elmo stickers on the apples, nearly double the number of kids chose the fruit, she said:

“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” Mrs. Obama said. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips.”

Afterward, Mrs Obama joined the Muppets at her garden on the South Lawn for the annual fall harvest. White House staff helped students from elementary schools in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia with the harvest. The group, including the first lady, also prepared – and ate – turkey veggie wraps made using some of the freshly picked cucumbers and tomatoes.

Sam Kass, the “Let’s Move” executive director, said it was a big step for Sesame Workshop to waive its licensing fee, which is a major source of income for the nonprofit.

“For them to step in and do this is a really big thing,” said Kass, who also is an assistant White House chef.

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