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Sunday, 10 April 2016

Mascot

A mascot is a person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck. The word is also used in marketing and advertising purposes for consumer products. It comes from the French slang word "mascotte" used by gamblers to mean talisman, charm, which itself was derivative of the southern french "masco" meaning sorceress.

Edmond Audran (1840-1901) was a church organist in the French city of Marseilles who also wrote comic operas. In 1880 he penned a popular comic operetta with a central figure, Bettina. She was a country girl whose extraordinary good fortune could not be due to mere chance but must have been caused by some supernatural agent. Looking for an appropriate figure and name for the opera, Audran picked the Provencal word 'La Mascotte.'

Photo of Audran by Pierre Petit, Bibliothèque nationale de France

La Mascotte premiered on December 29, 1880 and was so popular that it was translated into English as The Mascot, introducing into the English language a word for any animal, person, or object that brings good luck.


The last survivor of the Crimean War was a tortoise named Timothy, it was a ship's mascot on HMS Queen which took part in the bombardment of Sevastopol. Timothy, who was in fact a girl, died in 2004 aged about 165.

In 1889 Yale tackle Andrew Graves bought a bulldog named Handsome Dan from a local blacksmith. Handsome Dan became Yale University's mascot, the first animal to hold such a position in American sports.

The original Handsome Dan

Winnie, from Winnie the Pooh, was named after a bear at the London Zoo. The animal had been born in Canada but brought to London in 1914 as the mascot of a Canadian regiment.

Sugar Bear (the mascot for Golden Crisps) first appeared in the 1940s when the breakfast cereal was called Sugar Crisp.

Kool-Aid's mascot, a liquid-filled, smiley-faced pitcher with arms and legs, originated in the 1950s. His catchphrase of "Oh Yeah!" is now embedded in American pop culture.

Due to the association of the breed with Germany, the dachshund was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, with the name Waldi.

Source Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999.

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