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The Real Reason Yukon Cornelius Licked His Pickaxe In Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Some people look forward all year to when network television starts recycling beloved, animated Christmas specials. How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas contain valuable lessons about the spirit of the season that are just as important today as they were all those years ago when they first aired. However, when you're talking about Christmas specials, you can't avoid a discussion about the longest continually running Christmas television special of all time — one that almost didn't happen in the first place – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

We all know the story. Rudolph and his bright red nose are ridiculed by all of the other reindeer, causing him to run off to the Island of Misfit Toys. Eventually, Santa Claus and all of the other reindeer learn to accept Rudolph for who he is, which occurs right when they need a bright light source to guide Santa through thick fog so that he can deliver toys to all the good boys and girls.

It's easy to see why the broadcast has remained on the air for over 50 years now. It's a beloved Christmas film for children with stop-motion animation that still holds up to this day; however, not everything holds up as well. If you tune into Rudolph these days, then there may be certain scenes that cause you to scratch your head, such as when Yukon Cornelius friggin' licks his pickaxe. That's right, we all remember it. Gross and weird. 

As it turns out, he doesn't have a case of the North Pole Crazies. If you've watched the movie on Blu-Ray or DVD (or saw the original broadcast in 1964), then you know why Yukon has this peculiar habit thanks to a deleted scene.

A deleted scene reveals Yukon Cornelius is searching for peppermint

An article from The Huffington Post details the story of the missing pickaxe scene. Due to the broadcast network's need to squeeze more commercial breaks into the movie's runtime, certain scenes have been edited out of the film to accommodate these promotional interruptions. One of the most significant is a moment referred to as "The Peppermint Mine Scene" during which Rudolph guides Santa to the Island of Misfit Toys. At one point during the scene, Yukon throws his axe into the air, and after it strikes the ground, he licks it and says, "Peppermint! What I've been searching for all my life! I've struck it rich. I've got me a peppermint mine ... Wahoooo!" 

There you have it. Yukon didn't have a proclivity for tasting dirt; he was searching for peppermint the entire time! Due to the scene being cut, modern audiences just think he has a bizarre axe-licking quirk. Fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief when the factoid was recently posted on Reddit with people commenting things like, "Wow, I'm really glad to learn this since I always pointed that out to others like, 'WTF, why is he licking the axe'? and 'I thought he was tasting for gold!' Haha it was still weird tho."

If you've always wanted to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the way it was meant to be seen, then you're in luck! Freeform has begun airing the Christmas special, and the network has included several scenes that were either changed or deleted from their original broadcast on NBC. This restoration includes "The Peppermint Mine Scene," so you can finally watch the film the way it was intended with Yukon's habits fully explained.