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Here are Government Mascots Far Less Famous Than Smokey the Bear

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What Smokey the Bear is to the prevention of forest fires, City officials hope Foxy the Fireman will be to human safety. Fire Commissioner Thompson (c) puts the finishing touches to one of 250 billboard signs posted around the city to warn against home fire hazarsd. Looking on are Asst. Chief Charles McKeogh (l) and Foxy himself, played by fireman Barney Schmeltzer. (Photo by William Jacobellis/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
What Smokey the Bear is to preventing forest fires, New York City officials hope Foxy the Fireman will be to human safety. Fire Commissioner Thompson (c) puts the finishing touches to one of 250 billboard signs posted around the city. Looking on is Foxy himself, played by fireman Barney Schmeltzer. (William Jacobellis/New York Post Archives/(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

Smokey the Bear made his first appearance in 1944. He was created because the government was worried the Japanese might start fires that would destroy wood needed for the war effort. Smokey remains with us decades later and is as famous as ever, even though he’s changed quite a bit over the years. (For instance, now most of us refer to him as “Smokey the Bear,” even though his original name excluded the “the.”)

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 23: Even Smokey the Bear seems to be ducking the precipitation on rain-slick Broadway. It was a fowl day and the weatherman laid a turkey's egg. a steady, day-long downpour spread blessings from above that would have been better appreciated if last year's water shortage were still with us. Still, millions were the more comfortable for their warm homes and holiday feasts as they gazed through their windows, thankful not to be out in the rain. A hardy 120,000 turned out, however, to take in the 41st annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. (Photo by Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Smokey the Bear at the 41st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, 1965. (Hal Mathewson/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Of course, then there a lot of other government mascots who’ve failed to catch on, whether launched at the national, state, or city level. Take an animal who was equally devoted to preventing fires: New York City’s Foxy the Fireman, who boasted the unintentionally alluring slogan, “Be Foxy.” Foxy even got his own comic book in 1965, before fading from public consciousness.

Foxy the firefighter appeared today for the inauguration of a Crusade to save lives and is introduced by the fire Commish. Edward Thompson, during ceremonies at the high school of fashion industries. March 13, 1964. (Photo by Louis Liotta / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
Foxy the Firefighter is introduced by the Fire Commish. Edward Thompson during ceremonies at the High School of Fashion Industries. March 13, 1964. (Louis Liotta / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

Of course, a key reason for using animal mascots is to connect with kids, as advertisers have long done. One of the most notorious corporate characters is Joe Camel, who was repeatedly attacked as a tobacco industry attempt at getting children to smoke.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 15: TOBACCO DOCUMENTS-- Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., releases new tobacco documents showing how R.J. Reynolds tobacco was obsessed with getting the teenage smoking market. And to do that, they developed joe camel. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., releases new tobacco documents showing how R.J. Reynolds Tobacco was obsessed with getting the teenage smoking market. And to do that, they developed Joe Camel. (Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

The government lashed out at Joe, with investigations and various attempts to combat the Camel’s allures. Indeed, in 1997, the year R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company officially put Joe to rest, Portland, Maine’s Public Works had this critter running around, encouraging kids to swap merchandise with tobacco branding for T-shirts with the slogan, “Smoking: It’s a Drag!”

STAFF PHOTO BY GORDON CHIBROSKI -- Monday, July 28, 1997 -- Portland school kids rejoice as a load of cigarette paraphenalia is trashed by Portland PUblic Works mascot at Fort Allen Park, site of a Portland Public Health Division and Cancer Society rally to keep kids from starting smoking. Kids traded cigarette related items from Marlboro Computer CD-ROMs, key chains, pens, hats and t-shirts with cigarette advertising for t-shirts with the message,"Smoking. It's a Drag!" (Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Portland school kids rejoice as a load of cigarette paraphenalia is trashed by Portland Public Works mascot at Fort Allen Park, site of a Portland Public Health Division and Cancer Society rally to keep kids from starting smoking. 1997. (Gordon Chibroski/ Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Today, the crucial frontier for government mascots seems to garbage/recycling, whether it’s for New York City’s safe disposal program to get people to dispose of their unwanted electronics properly …

Mascot for the Safe Disposal program, organized by the government of New York, offers residence a drive-through drop off their unwanted electronics in the Brooklyn borough of New York, New York, United States.
(Zoran Milich/Getty)

… or efforts by Los Angeles to get its residents to recycle. Indeed, Los Angeles really wants everyone to recycle …

WESTWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24: The recycling mascot poses at the The Ultimate 'Green' Room Eco Lounge Emmy Gift Suite at the W Hotel on August 24, 2006 in Westwood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
The Recycling Mascot poses at the The Ultimate ‘Green’ Room Eco Lounge Emmy Gift Suite at the W Hotel on August 24, 2006 in Westwood, California. (David Livingston/Getty Images)

… which is why they gave us a character simply called “Mr. Recycle,” who currently is approaching 400 followers on Twitter.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: NBA Legend Mitch Richmond poses for a photo with a Mr. Recycle mascot during the Haier All-Star E-Waste Recycling event on February 12, 2011 at the Convention Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mitch Richmond
Former NBA All-Star Mitch Richmond poses with Mr. Recycle mascot during the Haier All-Star E-Waste Recycling event on February 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

To see still more forgotten government mascots, click here. If you want forgotten government mascots specifically from forests—they include Smokey’s fellow (human) ranger Rusty Scrapiron; Howdy, the Good Outdoors Manners Raccoon; and of course Woody the Log, who had a real stake in fighting forest fires because he was a log—click here. At the bottom, watch a report on Smokey the Bear and his “makeover” in honor of his 70th birthday, and appreciate how remarkable it is that the government created a mascot that actually worked.