TNB Night Owl – Fighting Pickles

College sports mascots are meant to fire up their student body and perhaps even instill a little concern on the part of the opponents. There are warriors, wild animals, mythological beasts, and brawny blue-collar occupational workers represented in institutions of higher learning throughout the country.

Then there are the other ones. Sammy the Banana Slug, Artie the Artichoke, Speedy the Geoduck, the University of Arkansas Boll Weevil. Topping many of the lists for alternative mascots? The Fighting Pickle.

A creation of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the Fighting Pickle is a human-sized pickle with a Van Dyke moustache and beard. He wields a paintbrush as if it were a combat weapon. He is masked, to prevent him from being recognized when he’s walking around among ordinary pickles. And he typically wears a ruffle around his waist that has piano keys on top of it.

Curious? Well, the school held its graduation ceremony last month, as did most universities. Like most colleges in the time of covid-19, they did so without the traditional gatherings. In honor of their students, the faculty put together a short commercial-length farewell to the class of 2020, and the only person seen on the campus in the video is the aforementioned pickle.

The story of how the pickle came to be is fairly simple: he isn’t a rooster.

In 1972, the school’s Office of Student Affairs declared a contest to create a mascot. The submissions were to include, if at all possible, a slogan as well as a general design. The hope was there would be a large number of options to choose from, and that hope, at least, was fulfilled.

This is when the people in charge of the contest learned the value of the warning “be careful what you wish for.”

In the end, 64 different name, outfit design and slogan combinations were submitted. One was the Fighting Roosters, which would bring to bear the obvious dangers of “cock”, the common synonym for rooster. It was discarded. Of the remaining 63, all of them were absurd… which is because every one of the other submissions had been brainstormed by the same trio of students who were attempting to create the most ridiculous, unintimidating mascots possible.

Their prank succeeded on a level beyond their expectations, as one of their submissions won by default due to the lack of competition. The fighting pickles were born… and everyone else was left to wonder what the 62 options which were spurned might have been.

Question of the night: Have you attended any college sports events?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.