What ‘Teletubbies’ Meant to Me, From Sibling Bonding to Homemade Tubby Toast

Growing up, I wanted to live in Teletubbyland. 

My parents played me VHS tapes of “Teletubbies” nearly every morning in our living room. As the sun baby giggled on screen, I would begin to hop up and down, ready to dance to the theme song and chant, “Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po.” When the Teletubbies huddled together for their big hug, I joined them by wrapping my arms around our box television set. 

I adored these cuddly, colorful characters. From frolicking in the hills to gobbling up Tubby Toast, I tried to mimic the same routine as the Teletubbies. 

My parents would take me to a park in my hometown, where I imagined I was in Teletubbyland by searching for rabbits and rolling down hills until my clothes turned green. 

When I was 3 years old, my grandmother drove me one day to a McDonald’s drive-thru for breakfast. 

“Can I get Tubby Toast, Nai Nai?” I asked her eagerly. My grandmother — unaware of the fact that this food was from a children’s television series — proceeded to yell into the drive-thru intercom, “And my granddaughter would like some Tubby Toast.” 

After a brief pause, an employee responded, “Ma’am, we don’t serve Tubby Toast.” 

When I returned home with tears in my eyes, my mother made me her own version of Tubby Toast to cheer me up: pancakes with a smiley face made of syrup. Her homemade Tubby Toast became my staple breakfast food for the next few years.

On Oct. 12, 2005, my little brother was born. In my new role as a big sister, I introduced him to all my favorite shows: “Muzzy in Gondoland,” “Dora the Explorer” and “Teletubbies,” among many others.

In every episode of “Teletubbies,” the characters’ tummies and antennas start to glow when the Magic Windmill spins. As my brother got older, we would each guess whose tummy would receive the TV transmission that day. Once the Teletubby is chosen, the screen on its stomach begins to play a video of children learning new skills or participating in daily activities.

My little brother and I were fascinated by these kids exploring their surroundings or trying something new. We learned to embrace nature and to be adventurous in life because of shows like “Teletubbies,” and our parents encouraged this curiosity by planning a variety of family outings.

In my mind, the Teletubbies represented my own family of four.

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