Why does an English football club have a hippo for a mascot? It's all local history.
Why does an English football club have a hippo for a mascot? It’s all local history. Barrington Coombs / EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

You need look no further than the rise of Gritty for proof that a costumed mascot can energize people. Partly, that’s because behind any good mascot’s cartoonish appearance or over-the-top behavior, there’s often a very real connection to the place or culture it represents. In an effort to identify some of the best local mascots from all over the world, and learn more about their deep connections to the places they’re from, we recently asked Atlas Obscura readers to tell us about their favorites. The results got us psyched!

Below, you’ll find a collection of some of our favorite reader submissions on the topic of local mascots. If you know of an amazing local mascot we missed, head over to our new user forums and tell us about it! Gooooooooooo MASCOTS!!!

Sarah Carrico/Used with Permission

Spuddy Buddy

Mascot for the Idaho Potato Commission

“Spuddy Buddy is a joyful tuber, indeed. Idahoans pretend to get annoyed by tater references, but ultimately, we’re pretty proud of our delicious, starchy reputation, and Spuddy Buddy is adorable, fun, and smile-inducing. He comes in many sizes, including larger-than-life, and makes for a charming souvenir.” — Sarah Carrico, Boise, Idaho

Artie the Artichoke

Mascot for Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Arizona

“In the 1970s, students at Scottsdale Community College voted on a new team name: the Fighting Artichokes, decked out in pink and white uniforms. The school’s administration refused, but the vote was binding, and a second vote overwhelmingly supported keeping the Artichokes. Artie has endured for decades. Recently, SCC changed their color scheme to a more reasonable green and black, but nonetheless, the school’s quirky mascot remains famous in the Phoenix area. As the local saying goes: ‘Even Artichokes have hearts.’” — Ethan Craft, Scottsdale, Arizona

Webster University/Used with Permission

The Gorlok

Mascot for Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri

“It is a mythological creature that the university invented. The name comes from the location of the university at the corner of Gore Street and Lockwood Avenue in Webster Groves, Missouri. It has been called the worst mascot in higher education, but Webster University alums think it’s kind of wonderful. Looks a bit like a cross between one of the Billy Goats Gruff and the troll under their bridge, with a dash of kitty and dog thrown in!!” — Erinn Gavaghan, Norman, Oklahoma

Meron Kuma

Mascot for Yubari melons in Yubari, Japan

“When I was in Hokkaido, I had some of the famous Yubari melons there (similar to what we call cantaloupe). The mascot, I discovered, is a grizzly bear with a growling expression wearing a melon on his head, which makes him silly at the same time. It is very Hokkaido, since growling bears seem to be a big symbol locally. Hokkaido embraces the ferocious as much as kawaii, likely because of its wilderness.” — Andrew, Toronto

Stoke FC/Used with Permission


Mascot for Stoke City Football Club in Stoke-on-Trent, U.K.

“Stoke is landlocked with no resemblance to Africa, but one of the local football teams has a hippo as a mascot. The reason for it is, Stoke is known as ‘The Potteries’ due to its major role in the pottery industry. Potteries/potters/hippopotamus… Pottermus. It kind of makes sense. Pottermus also has a girlfriend called Pottermiss.” — Tess Tainton , Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom

Chompers, pictured here without his usual companion, Chew Chew.
Chompers, pictured here without his usual companion, Chew Chew. Chip McCabe/Used with Permission

Chew Chew and Chompers

Mascots for the Hartford Yard Goats in Hartford, Connecticut

“They’re two giant, blue and green goats (one male and one female). Colloquially a ‘yard goat’ is someone who worked the train yards, hearkening back to Hartford’s history as a former transportation hub for New England. They are also two giant, blue and green goats.” — Chip McCabe, Hartford, Connecticut

Mr. Shucks

Mascot for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

“Iowa is to corn what Saudi Arabia is to oil. The name of the local baseball team is a pun on ‘Colonels.’ The mascot looks like a mash-up between their affiliated Cincinnati Reds’ mascot, Mr. Red, and an ear of corn.” — Margo Jarosz, Fairfax, Iowa

Bill Wittenbach/Used with Permission


Mascot for Kingsford High School, Kingsford, Michigan

“The Flivver car built by Ford helped create the town of Kingsford.” — Bill, Kingsford, Michigan