Some months ago I wrote to Fox's Glacier Mints in the UK as I wanted to know more about the whereabouts and background of Peppy, the icon of the company since 1922. I never got a reply but today I stumbled over something I will consider as part of the answer...I really love the Internet!The bear, nicknamed Peppy, was used to promote the mints before being mothballed in the 1960s because it was considered distasteful.It was donated to a museum and long forgotten about but after being rediscovered in a dusty back room it has now been restored and put back on public display for the first time since the 1960s.The bear, measuring 1.5m high and 2m wide, stands on all fours with its head bowed forward in a pose identical to that seen on the mint wrappers.
Hayley Thompson, curator at New Walk Museum in Leicester, said: "The Polar Bear was seen by very few people and it's been gathering dust over the years and just got forgotten about.It started out doing publicity work for Fox's at carnivals and football matches in the days when people had never seen Polar bears.But it was taken out of service then generally forgotten about until the move came to light and they wanted it to go to a good home.Fox's launched the clear mints from their factory in Braunstone, Leicester, in 1922 and held a competition for workers to come up with a name and logo. A factory worker was awarded £5 for his suggestion of calling them glacier mints and having a crouching polar bear on the packaging.Managers then commissioned a taxidermist to find a polar bear and stuff it to look like the winning design. Peppy, shot dead in the 1920s, was displayed in the original factory and used for publicity around the country.When the company was taken over by Rowntrees in the 1960s Peppy and four other bears used in promotions across the country were no longer required.Peppy was re-discovered at the museum in 2003 and has taken six years to restore.The museum is also seeking the other lost bears to display alongside Peppy in the exhibition.Big Bear Limited, which took over Fox's in 2003, refused to put Peppy back on display because it was considered "gory". Maria Moran, the firm's brand manager, said: "It's not the most politically correct thing to have a giant bear hanging around when they're facing extinction because of melting ice caps."We found it in the back when we were clearing out and decided to donate it to a museum - the best place for it.We didn't want it in the reception because it's so gory we feared it could scare the customers when they visited.It was donated to a museum and long forgotten about but after being rediscovered in a dusty back room it has now been restored and put back on public display for the first time since the 1960s.
The New Walk Museum in Leicester to which Peppy was donated in 2006, is now trying to find out more about Peppy, apart from Peppy's role of being the confectionery's icon, little is known about the bear."We don't know who the taxidermist was, we don't even know if it was male or female. We don't know where the bear originally came from, we know nothing at all.It's a real shame, because it's such a lovely specimen, it deserves to have some kind of history with it, so we're really hoping we can find some information. ...the original bear used was taken by the company to fetes and carnivals across the UK as a publicity stunt. It is thought there may have been as many as five bears used as the logo but Peppy is the most recent one."
But Peppy was not only promoting sweets . The great white bear has even inspired the name of a local pub down Spring Bank, which has now been called 'The Polar Bear' for decades!
And just for the records...and it has nothing to do with Peppy...more stuffed polar bears seem to have disappeared, at least I didn't find a notice that they did found it in the meantime....
Sources: The Telegraph & BBC News & HullocMuseum's Collections