One of the oldest and most well-known trademarks in the world, the Michelin Man has been around for 122 years, yet his original design was very different from what we see now.
Outside of the English-speaking world, Bibendum was once a smoker, a beer drinker, and overweight.
The idea for Bibendum came to Michelin’s founders Edouard and André Michelin in 1894 while they were attending an auto display where a stack of tires resembled a man without limbs or legs.
A sketch of a guy holding a glass and toasting in Latin, “Now let us drink,” was discovered by André four years later. The artist was identified as O’Galop.
They asked O’Galop to transform the man into the Michelin man and write “C’est à dire: votre santé” on a goblet filled with broken glass and nails. The Michelin tire cleared the obstruction.
This means that you should start drinking right away. Specifically, to your health. The Michelin tire consumes obstructions.
Based on modern sensibilities, the early variants of this new character are nothing short of terrifying.
The Original 1928 Ad
Two Michelin men pose for the camera sometime in the early 1900s.
Photo of two Michelin men on top of a horse-drawn carriage advertising Michelin tires.
Two Michelin Men fight, early 1900s
The Michelin man gives a family a spare tire
Group of Michelin Men, Berlin, 1928
Playing in a swing band
1912 ad showing Bibendum smoking a cigar with nails in his foot
1926 Advertising Vehicle
The Michelin Man poses with a terrified child, 1926
Archibald Baker as the Michelin Man
Two Michelin Men on a Parade Float
Two Michelin men with glasses
A Friendlier, More Accessible Michelin Man
As time went by, depictions of the Michelin Man being to soften, more closely resembling the modern depiction.