In the past this site has featured posts about how some of my favorite organisms and mythical beings have been used as mascots or logos.  I have blogged about turkeys, leprechauns, trees, and catfish as adopted as the symbols for businesses, sports teams, or individuals.  These posts have been fairly open because mascots and logos are often loosely defined: sometimes an informal name catches on or a novelty statue becomes the symbol of a town.  Indeed some of the images I included are only maniacs in costumes or striking illustrations. So be it! Such usages highlight the way in which these animals and concepts are worked into the fabric of our lives.

None of this prepared me for how mollusks have become mascots, logos, and symbols.  One of the many reasons I write about mollusks is because they are so alien and yet simultaneously so pervasive and familiar.  That idea is borne out by mollusk symbols! Not only is one of the world’s largest companies symbolized by a mollusk (to say nothing of how a squid has wiggled its way into becoming the unofficial mascot of one of the world’s richest and most controversial financial entities), some of the world’s strangest entities are also represented by octopus, squid, or shellfish.

The evolving logo of Royal Dutch Shell through the ages

SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion: a fictional evil organization from the James Bond Universe

Squidoo is a community website which specializes in particular areas of user interest (or something)

Grimace, the loveable purple blob was originally a grabby octopus: he did not test well in focus groups so ad executives from DDB Needham (the agency behind the McDonald's characters) simply ripped his arms off

The logo of a server farm

Oakie the Oyster, the face of the Halifax Oyster festival hobnobs with another mascot

Mollusk logos are immensely popular in Japan.  Sometimes the reason is evident (as in squid flavored noodles with a cartoon squid on them), but other times the reasoning is elusive. Mollusks in Asian art deserve a post all of their own.  Indeed the subject deserves more than that—for tentacles are so tangled up with fertility issues to the fervid Japanese imagination that my family blog is not going to explore some of the outré fringes of mollusk imagery in that island land.  With that explanation (or caveat), here are some particularly good Japanese mascots–denied of any context since I don’t read that language!

Um...squid flavored?

Japanese Octopus Ice Cream

Squid Costume

?

Actually I have no idea if those last five are mascots or logos or what.  Whatever they are, they come from Shinici MARUYAMA and they are jaw-droppingly incredible.  The Japanese certainly have a very special relationship with mollusks!