Thursday, July 19, 2007

Let us drink....


"Bibendum the Michelin Man, introduced in 1898 by French artist O'Galop (pseudonym of Marius Rossillon), and one of the world's oldest trademarks. André Michelin apparently commissioned the creation of this jolly, rotund figure after his brother, Édouard, observed that a display of stacked tyres resembled a human form. Today, Bibendum is one of the world's most recognized trademarks, representing Michelin in over 150 countries.

The 1898 poster showed him offering the toast Nunc est bibendum ("Cheers!" or "Now is the time to drink" in Latin) to his scrawny competitors with a glass full of road hazards, with the title and the tag C'est à dire: À votre santé. Le pneu Michelin boit l'obstacle ("That is to say, to your health: The Michelin tyre drinks up obstacles"). It is unclear when the word "Bibendum" came to be the name of the character himself. At the latest, it was in 1908, when Michelin commissioned Curnonsky to write a newspaper column signed "Bibendum".
The name of the plump tyre-man has entered the language to describe the appearance of someone obese or wearing comically bulky clothing: "How can I wrap up warm without looking like a Michelin Man?".

In Spain, michelín has acquired the meaning of the "tyres" or folds of fatty skin around the waist. His shape has changed over the years. O'Galop's logo was based on bicycle tyres, and wore glasses and smoked a cigar. By the 1980s Bibendum was being shown as a running Bib, and in 1998, his 100th anniversary, a slimmed-down version became the company's new logo; his vision had improved, and he had long since given up smoking. The slimming of the logo reflected both lower-profile, smaller tyres on sport compact automobiles and a more athletic, slimmer, and trimmer Bib.

Bib and his identical twin (or maybe a clone) try to fight off the effects of inflation

Bibendum made a brief guest appearance in the Asterix series as the chariot-wheel dealer in certain translations, including the English one, of Asterix in Switzerland. (The original French version used the Gaulish warrior mascot of French service-station company Antar.) The image also plays a key role in William Gibson's novel Pattern Recognition. Michelin sued the performance artist Momus for releasing a song about the trademarked Michelin Man."

When in London be sure to visit the Bibendum resturant located in the original Michelin house. Restored in 1985 by Restaurateur and retailer Sir Terrance Orby Conran. Conran had to search for suppliers to recreate many of the building's original features. The three stained glass windows (below) which had been removed for safety during the Second World War had been lost and the glass cupolas at the front of the building had disappeared. After a long search, suppliers were found, and replicas of the windows and cupolas were made using original drawings, photos and posters.

Old round boy has inspired us all, especially Elieen Gray and her armchair.

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