If Tires Are Black, Why Is the Michelin Man White?

Widely-known as the “Michelin Man" — the beloved face of the Michelin brand since 1898 — the tubby white mascot’s name is actually Bibendum (or Bib for short). In his early days, Bibendum looked completely different, resembling a slightly creepy mummy-like figure seen raising a glass in his ads with the words "now is the time to drink.” The goblet was filled with nails and broken glass, which was meant to be indicative of how tough Michelin tires were and that they wouldn't puncture easily. In the 1920s, he was toned down and took on a more refined, family-friendly image, with no more drinking. You may be wondering why Bibendum is white, since tires are black. That’s because prior to 1912, tires were either grey-white or had a light translucent beige hue. Carbon was subsequently added to the rubber formula as a preservative and a strengthener, turning the tires black.