The true origin of Bibendum
, the Michelin Man, is shrouded in mystery. Even Wikipedia (always the second to acknowledge when it's wrong) admits that it's unclear when the word "Bibendum" came to be the name of the character himself. But now we can finally reveal all. Contrary to popular rumors, the name obviously has nothing to do with Horace's phrase "Nunc est bibendum" ("now is the time for drinking"), as that would encourage drunk driving. In fact, Bibendum's genesis is a footnote in history, quite literally. In footnotes, an asterisk (*) is followed by a dagger (†), then a double dagger (‡), and then a section sign (§). It was a section sign followed by the textual reference abbreviation "ibid" that engendered the Michelin Man. Note how the section sign looks like a circle (tire) with two arms, as seen from above. André Michelin, confronted by that footnote, equated the symbol with the mysterious abbreviation "ibid." Upon looking up the meaning of "ibid," the horror of that sign and its occult label only increased, for André was told that it meant "ibidem." (Spoiler: "ibidem" means "in the same place," "in the previously referenced source"). He had fallen into recursiveness, a tunnel of appendaged tires that eternally rolled back into itself. This is the horror William Gibson described as a stomach-churningly creepy, "weird, jaded, cigar-smoking elder creature suggesting a mummy with elephantiasis ... the rolls of his pallid, rubbery flesh like the folds of a partially deflated blimp, greasy and vile" (Pattern Recognition). When André regained consciousness and realized, practically retching, that he knew what his company's mascot was ordained to be, he remembered "ibidem" as "Bibendum," the addition of that initial B serving as a pictogram of the Michelin Man as seen from the front (a round head over a larger round body). As anyone can see, combining the overhead-view section sign with the front-view capital B brings the figure into three dimensions. Indeed, it was André's seemingly accidental addition of that B that brought the Michelin Man to life as one of the world's most recognized corporate symbols.