Flipping through the Sunday paper, I couldn’t help notice how light it seemed. Not just the whole paper, but specifically the comics section. I remember back in the day there were at least 8 full pages of colorized comics to pour through. Being a kid at the time was great. Nowadays it may be four and many of the classics moved aside to make room for the ‘parents with a newborn’ comic copycats. What does this have to do with mascots? When researching some candidates, I discovered that this week’s inductee just happens to be inspired by a classic comic strip. After reading some more on Peter the Anteater, I knew we had to tell this mascot’s 3 paned story.
Way back in 1965 the school administrators for the newly built campus of the University of California Irvine decided it was high time to add a little more spunk to the scene in the form of a new school mascot. Being the ever progressive place that it was, they decided to let the students decide on what it should be. Schuyler Hadley Basset III led the charge using the inspiration of Johnny Hart’s comic strip, “B.C.“, for the Anteater. The final nail in the decision coffin came when the water polo team and cheerleaders shouted “Give ’em Tongue!” at the meet and Peter the Anteater was born.
You could peruse Peter’s profile to get a handle on what the anteater is like, but let’s take a look at Peter as a mascot. The costumed version didn’t show up until 1980. The original version and the subsequent version show incremental improvements to the costume that leads it to today’s current Peter. He’s the big furry guy with the tall neck and long nose, kinda like Vlade Divac. Peter’s got big muscles and and what looks like to be a pair of Adidas.
All in all Peter the Anteater is a pretty well rounded mascot. Although he has no titles to flaunt in his trophy case, Peter does what he can to pep up the crowd. Apparently he’s also involved in local politics. He sports some social networking links. This guy does a good job getting around for such unique position in mascotdom.
What really led us to Peter the Anteater was the strange connection between him and the comic B.C. For those of you that remember, some of the stories in B.C. led to an anteater causing hijinks with the ant types. We’ve profiled unusual mascots before (and will still do), but this type of mascots brings reminiscence to the table as well. Perhaps one day when the comic eventually becomes extinct, the memory of it will be carried on in Peter the Anteater. That’s quite the legacy to carry, more so than some other mascots.
No, Peter the Anteater is not the best mascot evar. But he fills the niche left open and the story he has earns him a spot on our Mascot Monday roster. The next time you see Peter the Anteater, pick up a paper and read the current B.C. Seeing as the newspaper industry is dying as a whole, you may not get to do it too soon.