Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! What would a company or product be without a mascot?
The word mascot is from the French word, 'mascotte.' It literally means lucky charm. In fact, Merriam Webster defines a mascot as a person, animal or object adopted by a group as a symbolic figure especially to bring them good luck. Mascots are as recognizable, and sometimes even more recognizable than the company or product they represent.
Sports team mascots are so much associated with their teams that often the mascot dolls are stolen by an opposing team before a big game in an effort to jinx their opponent.
They can be cute or ugly, and although mascots are usually animals or objects, they don't have to be! Can you name the insurance company with a very recognizable woman for its mascot?
Companies use mascots to solidify their branding. Who can forget the Taco Bell chihuahua? Do you remember which mascot was famous for saying, "They're grrrreat!"
So, how well do you know the most famous mascots? There's really only way to find out. Take the quiz and prove it!
Planters Peanut Company was founded in 1906, and Mr. Peanut -- drawn by a child, was introduced in 1916. His monocle, top hat, and cane were added later by a professional artist.
"Good? They're grrrrreat!" Tony the Tiger made his debut in 1952 as the mascot for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes cereal. He was voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft, who also sang "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in the 1966 Christmas TV special, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," until Ravenscroft's death in 2005.
The first actor to play Ronald McDonald when the clown mascot was introduced in 1963 was Willard Scott, who later went on to fame delivering the weather forecast on "The Today Show." Ronald also appeared with his friends, Birdie the Early Bird, the Fry Kids, Grimace, the Hamburglar, and Mayor McCheese.
The legend is that the inspiration for the Michelin Man, first drawn in 1898, was a pile of tires. Over the decades he's changed a bit -- losing the cigar, the pince-nez glasses, and the handle, "The Road Drunkard."
In the 1980s, the 'Noid' attempted to delay Domino's Pizza deliveries -- back when they promised to deliver in 30 minutes or less. The Noid was shelved after a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and inspired by the character, held Domino's employees hostage in 1989.
Stephanie Courtney has played the character of Progressive Insurance Company's fictional salesperson, Flo, since she debuted in 2008. But she's also appeared on shows, including "Mad Men" and "You're the Worst," as well as about a dozen films.
The Jolly Green Giant was introduced nearly 100 years ago, for the brand Green Giant Great Big Tender Peas -- and it was those giant peas that inspired his name. It wasn't until 1961 that he was given his catchphrase, "Ho, ho, ho." And it wouldn't be until 1972 when Little Green Sprout, or just Sprout, was introduced.
The Taco Bell Chihuahua, Gidget, was part of the chain's advertising campaign from 1997 to 2000. Her popular catchphrase was, "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!"
When they needed an orange cat for their commercial, Morris the Cat, an orange tabby, was discovered in 1968 at a humane society animal shelter. Between 1969 and 1978, when the original Morris passed away, he appeared in 58 commercials for 9 Lives cat food. What you may not know, though, is that Morris the Cat was voiced by John Irwin, the same actor who voiced He-Man in the cartoon, "Masters of the Universe."
The U.S. Forest Service introduced its mascot, Woodsy the Owl, in 1970, as part of their campaign to raise awareness about environmentalism and conservation. His original slogan, "Give a hoot — don't pollute!" was officially introduced on September 15, 1971.
The character, Mr. Clean, made his TV commercial debut in 1958. Easily recognizable with his tan and bald head, Procter & Gamble has said the original model for him was a Navy sailor.
This "super party animal" was introduced during the Super Bowl in 1987. But Spuds MacKenzie wasn't his real name, and he wasn't a he, either. Honey Tree Evil Eye, a female Bull Terrier, rose to fame in Bud Light beer commercials in the '80s.
StarKist's mascot, the berert-and-shades wearing tuna named Charlie, was introduced in 1961 and was part of the company's ad campaign of the 1980s. Charlie the Tuna is still StarKist's mascot -- along with that famous line, "Sorry, Charlie!"
Thirsty? Just yell, "Hey! Kool-Aid!" and the Kool-Aid Man will come smashing through the walls of your home, delivering you a pitcher of Kool-Aid and his famous catchphrase, "Oh, yeah!" Oh, and did you know he's actually a pitcher of strawberry Kool-Aid?
The Borden Dairy Company created her in 1936, but their mascot, Elsie the Cow, made her big splash at the 1939 World's Fair in New York -- as a way to market their new rotolactator milking machine. Fun!
"It's so easy a caveman could do it," was the catchphrase for this GEICO ad campaign. GEICO's Neaderthal-like Cavemen debuted in 2004, and was honored by the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009.
Geoffrey the Giraffe wasn't always himself. Before he was introduced by the toy store chain Toys R Us in 1969 (and eventually became the mascot of both Babies R Us and Kids R Us, too), Geoffrey was known as Dr. G. Raffe, who appeared in print advertisements in the late 1950s.
Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney in 1928, and has since become one of the most recognizable characters in the world. Minnie Mouse is Mickey's girlfriend, and his dog is Pluto.
When the Quaker Oats Company introduced their new cereal in 1963, it did so with the seaworthy captain, Horatio Magellan Crunch -- best known as Cap'n Crunch, as part of the marketing campaign. Crunch, who is said to have been born on Crunch Island, captains a ship called the Guppy.
When Maytag debuted their new spokesperson, the Maytag Man, they introduced him as "the loneliest guy in town." While a few actors have played the role since the '60s, it wasn't until 2014 that the Maytag Man got a makeover.
Captain Morgan is a brand of rum, and also the name of the Captain Morgan Rum Company's fun-loving mascot. Rivaling the popularity of the rum is the popularity of what's become known as his "Captain pose."
In 1986, the California Raisin Advisory Board introduced the claymation musical group, The California Raisins. Vocals for the Raisins were performed by musician Buddy Miles, and the fictional group went on to win a real Emmy Award.
Mr. Whipple is a fictional supermarket manager who really wishes his customers would stop squeezing the Charmin toilet paper. The first of these commercials aired in 1964, and continued through 1985 (although there have been a few encores since).
Eddie Antar was the founder of the Crazy Eddie electronics chain, but it was Jerry Carroll who was the face of the business -- "His prices are ins-a-a-a-ane!" After the real Eddie was convicted of one count of racketeering conspiracy in 1989, the Crazy Eddie chain went bankrupt.
For 16 years, in the '80s and '90s, Dunkin' Donuts aired a series of commercials starring their mascot and pitchman, Fred the Baker (played by actor Michael Vale). The Television Bureau of Advertising named the campaign one of the five best commercials of the 1980s. "Time to make the donuts ..."
NBC's peacock logo isn't its first, but it's probably its most famous. It replaced the logo of a microphone surrounded by lightning bolts, at the time when NBC was moving to color programming.
Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven. When he was introduced in 1965, he popped out of a can of dough, exclaiming, "I'm Poppin' Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy!" Hoo-hoo!
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? When Mr. Owl debuted in 1969, he claimed it was three. According to science, though, it's a lot more than three. Of course, if you can't resist crunching it, this is a moot point.
In 1974, the Vlasic stork was introduced as the mascot for the Vlasic Pickle company, and let consumers know that, "That’s the best tasting pickle I ever heard." Why a stork? There's a story about pickles and babies, but there's no confirmed truth behind it.
It was the early '60s when Exxon (then known as Standard Oil) introduced its cartoon tiger in advertising and promotional campaigns, with the slogan, "Put a tiger in your tank." Kellogg's sued the company after the tiger was used to advertise food -- something they felt infringed on their mascot, Tony the Tiger.
The last of the decades-old blimps was decomissioned in March 2017, when Goodyear replaced their fleet with new models. Technically, because they have a frame structure that maintains the ship's shape, they are zeppelins, but we don't want to nitpick.
Introduced in November 1996, Clippit, an animated paperclip, was the Microsoft Office assistant more likely to be dismissed than called upon for help. "Clippy," as he's known, was retired in 2007.
Remember when Coke was replaced with New Coke, but came back after no one really liked the replacement? In 1985, after the return of Coca-Cola Classic, Max Headroom was tapped to be the spokesperson for New Coke (which was renamed to Coke II in 1992) -- c-c-catch the wave!
Originally created for the arcade video game, "Donkey Kong," Mario, who was once named "Jumpman" and "Mr. Video," has become the company's mascot, and has appeared in more than 200 video games since his creation. In 2017, Nintendo announced that Mario was retiring from the plumbing profession to spend time playing tennis, baseball, or soccer, or car racing.
Since the successful 2004 advertising campaign, Where is my Gnome?, Travelocity's "Roaming Gnome" has become the company's mascot. With him around, "You'll never roam alone."
Since his debut in 1980, the National Crime Prevention Council's mascot, McGruff the Crime Dog, has been used in campaigns to increase crime awareness and personal safety measures.
This Kentucky Colonel is best known for founding the fast food chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken (now known as KFC) -- and he trademarked the phrase "It's Finger Lickin' Good." In 1964, 73-year-old Colonel Harland David Sanders, his full name, sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken corporation for $2 million, which is about $15.4 million today.
While the characters, Snap, Crackle, and Pop, who are gnomes, were created in 1933, they were used in advertisements and marketing materials, such as posters. They weren't seen on the Rice Krispies box until 1941. Snap is usually the one wearing the chef's toque, while Crackle wears a red toque. And Pop, which sometimes is seen in a chef's toque, is most often wearing a drum major's shako.
The Budweiser Clydesdales, about 250 horses total, are owned by the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company, and are primarily used in commercials and for promotional reasons. The Clydesdales made their public debut in 1933 as part of the celebration of the repeal of Prohibition.
When The Brawny Man was first introduced on-screen in the 1970s, he didn't have a face. It's true; he was a faceless larger-than-life guy lending a hand -- lending a paper towel, that is, to women who need it. He did, however, have a face on Brawny packaging -- phew.
Gorton's of Gloucester, now known just as Gorton's, wasn't always in the fish-freezing business. It was all the way back to 1905, when the company was producing salt codfish, that the Gorton's Fisherman company mascot was introduced: a fishman at the helm of a schooner.
GEICO's Gecko is the insurance company's longest-running mascot, appearing in more than 150 commercials between his debut in 1999 and 2017. In 2005, the gecko was transformed into a CGI character.
You may not remember Cheetos' original mascot was the Cheetos Mouse, from 1971 to 1979 -- because Chester Cheetah, who was introduced in 1986, stole the show. You may recognize some of his "cheesy" slogans, which included, "It ain't easy bein' cheesy," "The cheese that goes crunch!" and "Dangerously cheesy!"
The mascot for Energizer batteries, a pink sunglass-wearing toy rabbit who wears blue and black-striped sandals and beats a bass drum emblazoned with the Energizer logo, was introduced in 1989. The campaign was so popular, presidential candidates, including George H. W. Bush, in 1992, compared themselves to the bunny.
After making a big splash in Japan, this small white duck -- the Aflac Duck, was introduced to North America in 2000. Gilbert Gottfried was the voice of the duck until 2011, when he was fired and voice actor Dan McKeague took over the role.
Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World was played by actor Jonathan Goldsmith from 2006 until 2016, when he decided to retire from the role and, presumably become less interesting. In 2016, French actor Augustin Legrand became the new Most Interesting Man in the World. "Stay thirsty, my friends."
General Mills' introduced its colorful Trix cereal in 1954, and by 1955 were figuring out how to create the Trix rabbit as a mascot. The cereal-stealing rabbit is foiled every time -- except twice, when kids voted for him to have a taste, in 1976 and again in 1980. "Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids!"
The iconic image of Nipper, who was believed to be part Jack Russell Terrier -- maybe, looking into a phonograph, quickly became well-loved as mascot of the Victor Talking Machine Company, along with the slogan, "His Master's Voice" in the early 20th century when it debuted.
When Mr. Monopoly, who was originally known as Rich Uncle Pennybags, was added to the board game, Monopoly, in 1936, it was on the Chance and Community Chest cards. It's rumored that Mr. Monopoly, who has a wife named Madge, was named the sixth richest on The Forbes Fiction 15, in 2006.