The Story behind The Michelin Man 

Fleamarkets rock because you never know what you’re going to find.

These little, or should I say plump, Michelin men caught my eye at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds last weekend.  There were tons of them amidst all kinds of very cool and somewhat junkie other metal pieces.

I have no attachment or history to the Michelin man but when I saw them, I kind of swooned over their cuteness. And it did take me back to a time when they were popular, so naturally I did a little digging to find out more.

It gets interesting.

Michelin Man was one of the world’s oldest trademarks and his origin is clever and amusing.

The story goes like this:  Two brothers, Edouard and Andre Michelin thought the stack of tires piled up next to their exhibit at the Lyon Exhibition of 1894. Edouard thought it looked like an armless man. Nothing happened, but the seed was planted.  Four years later, Andre was hanging out with french cartoonist, Marius Rossillon when the Michelin Man inspiration hit.  Rossillon had just shown him a sketch rejected by a Munich brewery.  It was a giant figure of a man, rather commanding and regal, holding a big mug of beer and quoting Horace’s ode:  “Nunc set bibendum”, which means “Now is the time to drink.”  Andre remembered those tires when he saw the sketch.  He asked Rossillon to draw it again, but this time as a man made out of tires.  Michellin Man, a.k.a Bibendum, is now one the world’s most famous trademarks, representing Michelin in over 150 countries.

Who knew?

Love a good story.   We all know the Michelin Man.  Talk about successful branding.

What will I do with my two Michelin men?  I see them atop a pile of books on a shelf…bringing a smile to my heart.

“Nunc est bibendum!”

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