Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham was written on a bet. In 1960 the co-founder of Random House, Bennet Cerf, bet Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) that he couldn’t write a children’s book using fifty or fewer distinct words. Geisel created Green Eggs and Ham using precisely fifty words and it went on to be his most popular book. To date it has sold over 200 million copies. Despite the book’s success, Cerf never made good on the bet.
Green Eggs and Ham, like many of Geisel’s books, takes a valuable lesson and wraps it inside a fantastical yarn. Kids have way too much fun reading his books to be aware of the lasting messages they carefully implant. The Teaching Children Philosophy website says Green Eggs and Ham “raises the question of the role that experience plays in the formation of our beliefs.”
Green, a color generally associated with healthy foods like peas, spinach and broccoli, becomes the book’s catalyst. Eggs and ham that are green suggest something is amiss. This is not the correct color for these foods. Have they gone bad? The story ventures into the realm of “irrational prejudice” where decisions are made without actual experience. The food ends up tasting great, regardless of its color. Yet another impactful and, in this instance, timely parable from the master of storytelling Dr. Seuss.