In theory, an ideal mascot should be a perfect blend between ferocious and loveable. He, she or it should inspire fear in an opponent and yet, serve as a rallying cry for the students and fans of the school. In truth, there’s not a single mascot in the world that inspires any real fear in an opponent. The best they can all hope for is to get the lovability element right. Many definitely accomplish that goal, but unfortunately, there are more than a few that do little more than confuse.

On this week’s episode of Mental Floss, host John Green outlines thirty-seven different college mascots that are weird, stupid or both. From a piece of asparagus to an artichoke to corn cobs, schools and student bodies have mined a wide variety of subject matter to get unique and original mascots and/ or nicknames. Ordinarily, I’d make a pretty snarky comment here about the Syracuse Orangemen or the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, but I attended Indiana University and was a Hoosier. No one has known exactly what that term has meant since at least the early 1800s, though if you want some terrible guesses I don’t agree with, you can head over to the State Government’s official website.

If the above video had to be boiled down to one recurring theme, which many of the channel’s efforts do, it would be not to let the students vote on a mascot name, specifically when there’s a conflict going on between the student body and the administration. More often than not, such an offer only leads to everyone rallying around an insulting or intentionally stupid moniker that serves as a big middle finger and a permanent reminder of why democracy doesn’t always work.

Another common problem with mascots involves unintentionally choosing a nickname that doesn’t stay relevant. For example: only a fraction of people are aware a “shocker” is actually a person who works in the wheat fields and not a hand gesture Dane Cook was excited about five years ago or the person who pulls the switch on the electric chair. Unfortunately, not every school gets around to updating their mascot often enough, just like States and random laws that are no longer relevant.

If you want to continue with Mental Floss for another seven months or so, feel free to watch the below video that chronicles 50 Weird Laws that are still technically on the books…



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