Real Stories Behind 10 Mascots Might Change The Way You See Famous Brands
Here are 10 mascots of brands that you probably know by heart. But do you know who inspired them to succeed?
Every brand has a story to tell. It can come in the form of a sign or a slogan, but the audience is more attracted when a brand has its own mascot. Mascots can be used to raise awareness of the brand and can stick in your mind permanently. After seeing a mascot frequently, you will recognize the name of the brand without further thinking.
But mascots can have another impact on the brand which may not have been taken into consideration seriously. Mascots can expose the backstage of the brand and reveal the stories that should have been silenced long ago.
Sure, when a mascot is imagined by its creators (for example, Mickey Mouse from Disney), a little investigation can be done. But what about the stories of the mascots whose personalities are real? Could it be that the roots of the brands that we love today are much more different than we thought? And why some personalities that inspired the brands to succeed were not revealed?
These are the questions we aimed to answer. Below, you will find 10 famous brands and a short documentary description of people who inspired them. Get ready, because the way you see these brands may change forever. Let’s dive in!
Great businesses have great secrets within them. Among them are the recipes of the famous KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) dishes. Colonel Sanders was both the founder and the myth of the KFC brand. While his story seems to be well-known, to this day, some questions about his life seem unanswered. How did he start a business during the Great Depression? Was it really him who started selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Kentucky? And, most importantly—is it possible that a millionaire who, at the time, was nearly 60 years old would spend days at a restaurant, peddling his chicken technique, cooking for customers, and sleeping in the back of his car? It is indeed a myth, or a very unique story to tell.
Wendy's is a brand known to most of us, but the legend behind its mascot is controversial. At first, there was a rumor that the freckled red-head girl was inspired by Pippi Longstocking—a fictional character created by a Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. They look literally the same! However, it is now claimed that the girl in the logo is Melinda Lou "Wendy"—the daughter and fourth child of American businessman Dave Thomas, who is also the founder of the Wendy’s brand. While it makes sense that his daughter could be the mascot of the brand, Melinda is not a little girl anymore. She is 43 years old and, unsurprisingly, works as a spokesperson for Wendy’s.
With some help from Monopoly, even little children can quickly realize how capitalism works. As a representation of this, the mascot of Monopoly is Rich Uncle Pennybags, who is portrayed as a senior businessman with a mustache, bow tie, morning suit, and a top hat. However, the sources say that this man's looks may have been inspired by the famous businessman J.P. Morgan. No one knows for sure what kind of techniques this man used, but before the Monopoly game was released, he was claimed to be one of the most influential businessmen in the United States. Could it be that the monocle that he always wore was his talisman and helped with business? We cannot tell, but this, together with a hat and mustache, helped to shape the image of Monopoly for sure.
It is understandable that the brand that makes cereal and granola decided to choose a child as its mascot. However, that cute little girl with a hat, cheerful smile, and blue shirt has a more interesting story to tell than you might have imagined. “Little Debbie” is also the Executive Vice President of McKee Foods, the eight-decade-old, still family-run company that makes all of the brand's treats—plus Zebra Cakes and Cosmic Brownies. Debbie is the granddaughter of the founder, O.D. McKee, who risked all the money the family had and started a business during the Great Depression. Could it be that Debbie became the mascot of the brand accidentally? Maybe. There are sources claiming that the idea for Debbie to become the mascot of the brand came to the packaging supplier, who suggested the boss should use the name of a family member for a new product launch.
SUN-MAID's mascot is a young brown-eyed woman wearing a red bonnet. She gently smiles and invites us to enjoy the well-known go-to American snack. The official story behind the face of the mascot is this: in 1915, while Lorraine Collet Peterson was still in high school, she was working at a raisin cooperative one afternoon. She was drying her curly brown hair and wearing a red bonnet borrowed from her mother. A company executive noticed her and asked her to become the face of the brand. It is hard to tell if this story is true, but it cannot be denied that Lorraine truly existed and her face is successfully presented on every little red box to this day.
The mascot of Mr. Clean is so realistic that it is hard not to imagine an “original” person behind it. After all, a man with a bald head and a hoop earring is surely memorable. It is claimed that the inspiration for the mascot came from Yul Brynner’s portrayal of the King from Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1951 production The King and I. While Brynner described himself as "just a nice clean-cut Mongolian boy," people who knew him remember all the stories that he told about himself. To this day, no one knows if he actually fought with Loyalist forces during the Spanish Civil War or worked part-time as a jai-alai player. The realness of the hoop earring and why it was chosen to be part of the iconic mascot remains a mystery as well.
Anyone looking for a script for a movie? Here's your story to tell. Chef Boyardee’s logo portrays a cook with a mustache who looks like a usual guy. Don’t be mistaken! The person behind the mascot was a true boss who managed to lead the kitchen at the Plaza Hotel in New York before he was even 18 years old. This man, whose name was Ettore Boiard, also catered President Woodrow Wilson’s second wedding and opened a massively popular restaurant in Cleveland. Then, and only then, together with his brothers, he founded the Chef Boyardee brand. It is not even surprising that he also got a Gold Star from the US government for feeding the troops during World War II. See, we told you—it’s just like a movie. Now, who is going to play this guy?
Who is the person behind this popular rum? The mascot appears to be a self-confident man who is probably the king of the seas, but history shows he is not a person you would necessarily like to meet. If we were to believe what history is telling us, the "mascot’s" name was Sir Henry Morgan and he was born in 1635. In contrast to popular belief, he was not even a pirate… technically. To everyone's surprise, he was hired by the British government to sack and raid Spanish cities and ships. If it is true, it is probably best not to toast to that!
There are various legends surrounding Burger King’s King mascot. The rumor was that the head for a King was found on eBay while looking for inspiration. However, it is hard to deny that the symbols highlighted on the crown, together with his golden and red robe, are stunningly reminiscent of the symbols used in the European royal tradition. While there were many kings and queens in Europe, there is one personality who looks exactly like the Burger King. It is thought that King Mindaugas, who was the first and only King of Lithuania, might have been the true source of inspiration for the Burger King mascot. While it is hard to gather more evidence, it is clear that the similarities are undeniable: the mascot and the King Mindaugas share the same crown, robe, hairstyle, and even a mustache.
Cafe De Colombia
The mascot behind Cafe De Colombia might look like a casual coffee farmer, but can we say for sure who was the character that stood the test of time? Created to capture the spirit of the many small coffee producers, the mascot portrays a macho man, always with his mule called Conchita and a sack of coffee beans. It is claimed that his name is Juan Valdez, who was selected to represent the brand of more than 360,000 coffee growers. How the brand found this person remains unanswered. What is known is that the real name of Juan Valdez was Carlos Sanchez, and he was a coffee farmer from the department of Antioquia. He had an equally iconic deep voice and was frequently referred to as "the voice of God." Maybe he was? Knowing his success, it is hard to judge, after all.