You've seen them before. These famous mascots have appeared in countless ads or have graced the pages of websites you visit every day, but do you know their names or how they came to be? Read on for stories of 8 Famous Mascots Whose Names You Didn't Know (until now, that is).
1. Bibendum, the Michelin Man
We all knew him as the Michelin Man, but at 107-years-old (it's one of the world's oldest trademark, by the way), it's time for all of us to learn its true name: Bibendum, or Bib for short.
In 1889, the founders of the Michelin Tire company, brothers Édouard and André Michelin, noticed that a stack of bicycle tires looked like a man - all it needed was a pair of arms. Years later, a French cartoonist named Marius Rossillon (popularly known as O'Galop) showed the brothers an image of a king toasting a drink that he had created for a local brewery. Nunc est bibendum (Now is the time to drink), the king said.
They immediately asked him to change the image to a man made of tires. O'Galop then came up with the poster above, showing Bibendum flanked by his scrawny competitors beat up by road hazards, with the quote "Now is the time to drink ... That is to say, to your health. The Michelin tire drinks up obstacles."
Wait, you say. If Bibendum was made of tires, then why is he white and not black? That's because back then, tires were white. It's not until the early 20th century that carbon was added as a preservative and strengthener to the base rubber material.
2. Snoo, the Reddit Alien
Back in 2005, reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman dreamed up an online food ordering service business called MyMobileMenu and pitched the idea to Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator ... and got rejected.
The next morning, while the duo was on their way back home by train, they got a call from Graham, saying that even though he didn't like their idea, he liked the two of them. "You guys need to build the front page of the Internet," Graham said.
The duo coded reddit in just three weeks, and Ohanian wanted to name the site "snoo" as in "what's new?" but the domain name was already taken and the owner refused to sell. So, they chose "reddit" as a temporary name and compromised on calling the alien mascot Snoo.
3. Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch
(L) Cap'n Crunch (R) His creator, the legendary cartoonist Jay Ward (photo via the Hollywood Star Walk)- see the resemblance?
Cap'n Crunch to you and me, but his full name is actually Horatio Magellan Crunch. He was created in 1963 by Jay Ward, who also created the classic cartoons Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, and George of the Jungle amongst others. He was voiced by Daws Butler, who also did Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, and Huckleberry Hound.
The Captain was born and raised on Crunch Island, in the middle of the Milk Sea. He sails on the SS Guppy with first mate Sea Dog and a crew of four kids, Alfie, Brunhilde, Carlyle, and Dave. I suppose child labor laws didn't apply when you were trying to keep the cereal safe from the Cap'n's nemesis, Jean LaFoote the Barefoot Pirate.
Oh, one last thing. The Cap'n Crunch cereal was developed after customers complained that their cereal got soggy in milk. Food company Quaker Oats commissioned flavorist Pamela Low to come up with the sugary coating of the cereal. She decided to replicate the "want-more-ishness" (that's actually the technical term, she said) of the caramel taste in her grandmother's recipe of butter-and-brown-sugar sauce on rice. Obviously, she succeeded - but till her dying day, Low never ate cereal. She didn't like the stuff.
4. Larry, the Twitter Bird
The Twitter bird has a name. A pretty clever one at that, actually. It's Larry the Bird as in the famous basketball star Larry Bird, who played for the Boston Celtics, the home-state team of Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.
Ryan Sarver, Twitter's platform/API team, tweeted the photo above of Twitter's creative director Douglas Bowman talking about the evolution of Larry the Bird logo since the company was founded in 2006.
5. Mr. Veritably Clean
In the late 1950s, Proctor and Gamble asked Chicago ad agency Tathum-Laird to come up with a name, logo and ad campaign for their new cleaning product. Ad exec Harry Barnhart and illustrator Ernie Allen came up with a brawny man with a shiny bald head and a gold earring - supposedly modeled after a sailor, not a genie. Within 6 months, Mr. Clean became the best-selling household cleaning product on the market.
After 5 years without a first name, Mr. Clean finally got one. In 1962, the company ran a promotion "Give Mr. Clean a First Name." The winning entry was ... Veritably. So meet Mr. Veritably Clean.
6. Poppin' Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy
Under pressure to create an advertising campaign for a refrigerated dough product, a Leo Burnett advertising agency copy writer named Rudy Perz sat in his kitchen in 1965 and dreamed up a living dough boy popping out of the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls can. And so, Poppin' Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy was born.
More than 50 actors auditioned to be the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy. The man who won was Paul Frees - you might know him better as the voice of Boris, the bad guy from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Poppin' was drawn by Martin Nodell, who also drew the Green Lantern.
Image: General Mills Blog
In 1972, Poppin' Fresh got a toy family: a wife named Poppie Fresh, along with Grandmommer and Grandpopper, and two kids - a boy named Popper and a baby named Bun Bun. These toys are now quite rare, with the rarest piece being a mysterious man named Uncle Rollie, who drove a blue car with the license plate "Rollie."
7. Honey Nut Cheerios' Buzz Bee
Cheerios, my kids' favorite cereal, almost didn't happen. Lester Borchardt and his team at General Mills had been working for more than a year to figure out how to "puff" oats into the familiar little rings when his corporate bosses told him to abandon the project. Borchardt, having tested over 500 different formulas, felt that he was close to a breakthrough so he persevered and stuck to his guns. Puffing guns, that is.
Two months later, Borchardt perfected the "puffing gun" technology in which little dough balls are heated to high temperatures and shot out of a gun at hundreds of miles per hour to make that perfect "O." In 1941, a brand new cereal named CheeriOats was born.
CheeriOats' mascot was a girl named Cheeri O'Leary, but four years after its debut, General Mills changed the name to Cheerios after Quaker Oats disputed the original name.
The original Honey Nut Cheerios bee, before his makeover in 1999 (image: iCollector)
In 1979, three decades after Cheerios, a new variant came to the market: Honey Nut Cheerios, and with it, a new mascot, a cheerful bee ... who remained nameless for another two decades until a nationwide naming contest for kids in 2000 came up with the name: BuzzBee. The winner was fifth-grader Kristine Tong of Coolidge, Texas, who wrote that she gave it that name because "he is a bee with a lot of talent and when he flies, he makes a buzzing noise. This name suits him." She won a $1,000 for it.
8. Bugdroid, the Android Robot
Chances are, you have an Android phone, so the green robot should look familiar. But what is its name?
It's not Andy the Android Robot, like most people assume. While it has no official name, the Android team at Google call him the Bugdroid, probably because programmers are always chasing down bugs!
But who created Bugdroid? It was created on November 5, 2007 by a member of the Google Marketing Communications team named Irina Blok. She had a few days to come up with the logo for Google's new operating system, which was set to be released about a week later. Good thing Irina was fast: she came up with the Bugdroid design in just 5 minutes after getting the inspiration from the airport toilet signs that signify men's and women's toilets.
Oh, one last thing: the Bugdroid was Irina's first design job. Which ain't half bad considering the logo is on over 500 million smartphones around the world.