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What was the Michelin Man's name in 1896?

Discover the unique history of the Michelin Man.

The Michelin Man was created to promote tires, but has not always been known by that name. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
The Michelin Man was created to promote tires, but has not always been known by that name.

Many readers probably know who the Michelin Man is -- that white, plump, cuddly guy with the puppy in the Michelin tire ads. But you might be surprised to learn that he has a name, and it's not Michelin Man.

The Michelin man is known as Mr. Bib, short for his official name, Bibendum, which means "drinking to be done" in Latin. Why would Michelin choose to associate its tires with drinking? Because in the late 1800s Andrand ouard Michelin promoted the ability of the company's pneumatic tires to "drink up" obstacles.

Early Michelin Man

The first Michelin Man ad was finalized in 1898. Back then, tires weren't black; they were light gray or beige. Since Bibendum was designed to look like a man made of a stack of tires, he was light in color.

Mr. Bib has changed considerably over the years. In early Michelin Man ads he was characterized as well-to-do, often smoking a cigar and wearing opera glasses. In other ads, the Michelin Man was portrayed as a kickboxer, a gladiator and even a ballroom dancer. Soon, Mr. Bib evolved into a driver's guardian angel, which is how he is depicted in Michelin Man ads today.

On Michelin's Web site, check out Michelin in Video for videos of Bibendum's birth, different Michelin ads throughout the years and Mr. Bib at work at the 2006 Paris Motor Show.

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