Muppet Question # 2 Answered
I'll have a Birthday Party Wrap-Up post coming along in the next few days (depending on how soon I can get the photos back), but in the meantime ...
Here's a comment John B. left (for some bizarre reason) on my very first post just last week:
John B. said...
Ooh, Ooh I have a muppet question that has plagued my mind for many years, oh great oracle of muppet wisdom. The question is....Why did the Swedish Chef have hands of flesh and blood but a body made of felt? Some sort of early freakish genetic engineering, or something more sinister?
Well, John B., thanks for asking - and well done for noticing. It's a quirky fact of Muppet trivia that The Swedish Chef was the only Muppet to have 'real' human hands, and therefore he is also the only Muppet to break with tradition and have four fingers and a thumb on each hand. (All other Muppets have the usual three-fingers-and-one-thumb combination that most cartoon characters and puppets across the globe have.*)
The reason The Swedish Chef had real hands was for ease of being able to grab and throw objects during his 'Cooking segment' on The Muppet Show. If the puppeteer's hands had been restricted inside a felt glove (especially one with only three fingers and a thumb!), it would have been a lot more difficult to create a suitable amount of havoc onscreen.
This is why images taken from the show feature hands which are clearly real, such as here:
However, whenever he was posed for a deliberate stock photo or publicity shot, they created special human-looking puppet hands expressly for this purpose, such as here:
... At least, that's what Henson Productions want you to believe. I actually have my own theory, which is not too dissimilar to the one you put forward in your question, John B.
My extensive research has shown that The Swedish Chef was part of a radical skin grafting experiment that went tragically wrong. He burned his hands in the kitchen one day so badly that they had to amputate his hands altogether. Later, he was fortunate enough to have a passing politician's hands cut off (no one cared about the politician anyway) and sewn onto the stumps at the end of his arms.
Here's one of his new hands, right before they attached it:
So that explains why he's always groping about, blindly, for whatever object he's about to throw over his shoulder. He has a politician's hands, and we all know how they like to roam!
* The reason for this, of course, is to determine who's real and who's fake if the cartoon world ever comes to life and begins to infiltrate our own, killing us off and replacing us with themselves in some sort of murderous revenge of the creations kind of thing. We'll be able to spot the imposters by their lack of a fourth finger. But maybe don't shoot first and ask questions later if you spy someone with only three fingers and a thumb. They may not be a cartoon character or a puppet. Better check first.