August 11, 2019

"It turns out that a surprising number of Axios AM readers are sticklers that the wildfire-prevention icon is properly 'Smokey Bear' — not 'Smokey the Bear,' as I blasphemously posited..."

"... in a 75th birthday note yesterday. The U.S. Forest Service says you're right. Alexander Great and Attila Hun tip their broad-brimmed hats."

Writes Mike Allen at Axios.

Similarly, it's Teddy Bear, not Teddy the Bear. And it's Mickey Mouse, not Mickey the Mouse. It's Bugs Bunny, not Bugs the Bunny. It is, however, Kermit the Frog. And yet...



... it's Fozzie Bear. It's also Yogi Bear, not Yogi the Bear. You can count on it, with bears there is no "the"... unless the bear is a pooh. I mean the pooh. Or... I have to concede... a panda (yes, a panda is really a bear). I'm thinking of Peetie the Sexual Harassment Panda.

80 comments:

gspencer said...

However it's still Cher the Loon.

Darrell said...

Da Bears, though.

Darrell said...

And Frosty the Snowman, of course.

FrankiM said...

What the heck.

Fernandinande said...

"Smokey is, however, a proper noun in the case of Smokey Bear or Smokey the Bear, a long-running advertising mascot for the U.S. Forest Service. It is interesting to note that Smokey Bear’s creators spelled his name this way intentionally, to differentiate it from the adjective smoky."

Howsoever -

smokey noun, plural smok·eys. (often initial capital letter) Slang.
an officer or officers of a state highway patrol.
a state police car.

JML said...

The 1952 song, "Smokey The Bear", by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins led to this confusion. In the lyrics, it is, "...Smokey-the Bear...Prowlin' and a growlin' and a sniffing the air. He can find a fire - before it begins to flame. That's why they call him Smokey. That's how he got his name."

And don't forget: Only you can Give a Hoot...

Wince said...

Ace and Gary the Ambiguously Gay Duo

rcocean said...

Rudolph THE red nosed reindeer.

JML said...

Ferd, they are called Smokey's because of Smokey Bear's Hat. BTW, the official headgear of the FS is a Stetson. The National Park Service uses the "Smokey" hat for their Rangers.

rcocean said...

clarence the cross eyed lion

Fernandinande said...

Only you can Give a Hoot...

It brings to mind those very sad public service messages featuring that depressed Italian guy in a fake birch-bark canoe with culturally appropriated pigtails and feather.

Fernandinande said...

depressed Italian guy

Who is the announcer on that? He sure sounds familiar.

Fernandinande said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Original Mike said...

I remember him as Smokey The Bear from my youth, and noticed that nowadays he's Smokey Bear. I wondered what the story was.

Earnest Prole said...

Vlad Impaler says hi.

Fernandinande said...

William Conrad. He was "Matt Dillon" in the Gunsmoke radio show, which is why he sounded familiar to me, at least.

tcrosse said...

It's still Winnie the Pooh.

Narr said...

We still have Merv the Perv and Chester the Molester, right?

Narr
Used to see them everywhere, with Elvis the Pelvis and his cousin Enis

tcrosse said...

Let us not forget Zorba the Greek.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

"Smokey-Eyed Bear" would irk Althouse ire.

but re: Winnie
when we were kids tearing up the playroom, toys and stuffed animals strewn all around,
Dad would come in, a disapproving look on his face, point to the bear
and ask "Ok--who flung Pooh?"
As we stood in guilty silence, he would ease into a sly smile as he left, muttering something about our lack of sense of humor.

dear old Dad-- he was such a shit-mixer.

Psota said...

Don't forget Smackie The Frog, who is England's forest fire representative, per Mitch Hedberg

Rory said...

"Peetie the Sexual Harassment Panda"

But it's just Andy Panda

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

"Morgul the Friendly Drelb" (Laugh-In)

walter said...

Smokey Bear, he/him.
vs
Lambchop

Fernandinande said...

The alphabet on the wall behind Peetie has the lower case letters reversed, z to a. Is that a thing?

Tom T. said...

Ferdinand the Bull. But Huckleberry Hound.

Kevin said...

Momma Bear
Papa Bear
Baby Bear

Jimmy the Greek

Frankie Carbone
Fat Andy
Frankie the Wop
Freddie No Nose
Pete the Killer
Nicky Eyes
Mikey Franchasie
And then there was Jimmy Two Times, who got that nickname because he said everything twice, like:

Jimmy Two Times: I'm gonna go get the papers, get the papers.

Kevin said...

Why does Kermit the Frog need the additional identifier?

Is there any other Kermit on the show?

Was there another Kermit who left?

Did he leave under mysterious circumstances?

Is Kermit the Frog a mob nickname?

Was the entire show a front for the mob to launder money through a kids show?

So many questions...

Fernandinande said...

Here's a big list of similar names with and without "the", e.g.

Brody the Bruin
Bruce D. Bear
Brutus Buckeye
Brutus the Bruin Bear
Brutus Bulldog
Bucky the Beaver
Bucky the Bronco
Bucky Beaver
Bucky The Parrot
Bucky Bison
Bucky Badger — the lovable but mischievous badger mascot of the Wisconsin Badgers of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

I did not know that he was lovable!

tcrosse said...

"See that bridge? I built that. But do they call me Murray the Bridgebuilder? No! See that railroad? I built that, but do they call me Murray the Railroad builder? No! But suck one cock...."

Jeff said...

Not to mention Jeff the Great.

LordSomber said...

I just learned that Sam Elliot has been the voice behind Smokey Bear.

Learn something new every day.

Jeff said...

And definitely not
Harry the Potter or
Jeffrey the Epstein, although
Jeffrey the Dubious Suicide also works.

0_0 said...

Mike Allen is all too typical lately. He made a mistake and, instead of going forward with new knowledge, he got pissy with those who pointed it out and mocked them.

Fernandinande said...


Meet the Gov Mascot: #10 – Uncle Sam
Meet the Gov Mascot: #9 – Woodsy Owl
Meet the Gov Mascot: #8 – Thermy the Thermometer
Meet the Gov Mascot: #7 – Smokey the Bear
Meet the Gov Mascot: #6 – Sammy Soil and Ruby Raindrop
Meet the Gov Mascot: #5 – Mr. ZIP
Meet the Gov Mascot: #4 – McGruff the Crime Dog
Meet the Gov Mascot: #3 – Lady Liberty
Meet the Gov Mascot: #2 - Energy Ant
Meet the Gov Mascot: #1 – Franklin the Fair Housing Fox

The Rural Utilities Service has Rus the Surfin' Squirrel
The Federal Trade Commission has Dewie the E-Turtle
Bureau of Land Management's Johnny Horizon

Fernandinande said...

Meet the Green Reaper: The Department of Energy's Ridiculous and Terrifying Mascot

Fernandinande said...

Dunk is an anthropomorphic recycling bin who functions as a mascot for the National Security Agency (NSA). Dunk was criticized and mocked.

Chubfuddler said...

In Bringing Up Baby, Cary Grant is a paleontologist arrested by a clueless small-town constable who asks him who his confederates are, and the exasperated Grant replies "Mickey the Mouse and Donald the Duck."

Lem said...

Stickler is the decaf version of pedantic.

traditionalguy said...

It is Smokey the Bear. The 1950s TV watchers have their symbols,and the newcomers need to give it a rest.

Just like Donald the Trump, and Ann the Althouse. There is only one of these. God showed off and then He broke the mold.

0_0 said...

>The 1950s TV watchers have their symbols,and the newcomers need to give it a rest.

"In 1952, Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins wrote the popular anthem that would launch a continuous debate about Smokey’s name. To maintain the rhythm of the song, they added “the” between “Smokey” and “Bear.” Due to the song’s popularity, Smokey Bear has been called “Smokey the Bear” by many adoring fans, but, in actuality, his name never changed. He’s still Smokey Bear. "
https://smokeybear.com/en/smokeys-history/story-of-smokey

Earnest Prole said...

Grim the Reaper says hi.

tcrosse said...

How does this sit with Meade the Gardener?

gilbar said...

Harry Potter and the Smokey Bear

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

And Frosty the Supervisor.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

No relation, AFAIK.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

And Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear

Nichevo said...

...75th birthday note yesterday. The U.S. Forest Service says you're right. Alexander Great and Attila Hun tip their broad-brimmed hats."


Why do people have to be such bitches about admitting error? What's this defiance shit? It's like fighting back at a spelling bee.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Jesus The Christ

Roughcoat said...

Jabba Hut

Nichevo said...

Narr
Used to see them everywhere, with Elvis the Pelvis and his cousin Enis

8/11/19, 12:24 PM

Have you met Oral Roberts' two brothers?

bleh said...

Althouse, your old pal Larry Tribe is at it again. Given that the topic he’s bullshitting about is abortion, and is clearly very ignorant about it, I thought you might be interested.

https://twitter.com/tribelaw/status/1160602619842355201

Maillard Reactionary said...

Let us not forget Reddy Kilowatt: https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.collectiblesonlinedaily.com%2Fphoto%2F302396595714_1.jpg&f=1

The image is reminiscent of several outlets and switches in my house when we first moved in. Aluminum branch circuit wire-- bad idea. Fixed now. (You are forewarned if you buy a Vietnam War-era house.)

A couple of whippersnapper electricians I hired to do the pigtailing on the aluminum circuits had never heard of poor Reddy. Sad!

Separately, I had heard that Smokey Bear retired some years back. They never said why, but I suspect it may have been because of what he was smoking.

Last I heard he was in the same care facility as Willie Nelson.

Maillard Reactionary said...

http://3v6x691yvn532gp2411ezrib.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/default/files/story_images/20110429SAWG_fg14a.jpg

Reddy had a box. Who knew?

I was a little kid back then. I guess there was stuff going on that I missed.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Jesus the Christ is the proper naming of the Nazarene. The entire New Testament is written to say that.

gilbar said...

Jesus the Anointed One (the Christ)

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

But it is Teedy Roosevelt, not Teddy.

His friends, from childhood, called him Teedy or Theodore. He detested the name Teddy.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Does anyone remember Smokey Stover? The fireman?

http://smokey-stover.com/noseart_26thBS1.html

https://greatbutforgotten.blogspot.com/2010/07/smokey-stover-comic-strip.html

John Henry

Mark said...

There's the Smokey the Bear song. That implies the "the" is official. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Myz93sXW66Y

Narr said...

tcrosse@123p-- "I know, Murray," (holds up pinky finger), "one little dick, and you're labelled for life!"

gilbar@319p--good one! Harry Potter and the Smokey the Bear.

Nichevo@334p-- Oral, Anal, and Intercrural the Classics Prof?

Narr
(I know it was Nasal)

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Does anyone remember Smokey Stover?

what about Johnny Smokes ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWm6PUGpfVU

Maillard Reactionary said...

John Henry @5:04 PM said: "Does anyone remember Smokey Stover? The fireman?"

Notary Sojac right back to you.

Bruce Hayden said...

“Winnie the Pooh”

Except when it was “Winnie ille Pooh” in Latin class.

Earnest Prole said...

Jesus H. Christ.

BudBrown said...

As the blogger Althouse says, wait, as Blogger Althouse says so say I . I think.

Paul Doty said...

And it's Smoky Mountains, not Smokey.

Pete the Streak said...

Just got Mott Hoople's new album.

Quaestor said...

Smokey Bear is pointless revisionism. When the U.S. Forest Service adopted their mascot shortly after WWII its official name was Smokey the Bear. The Service even commissioned a song to help drill the message into schoolchildren, Boys Scouts, etc. because jingles and songs were deemed the most effective media by the advertising and public relations honchos who all made their PR bones when radio was the dominant vehicle. The refrain goes as follows:

Smokey the Bear,
Smokey the Bear,
Prowlin' an a-growlin'
An a-sniffin' the air.
He can find a fire before it starts to flame,
That's why they call him Smokey
'Cause he sure deserves the name.

The entire PR project revolved around three unrelated historical developments. During the war, the leaders of Imperial Japan sought numerous means to somehow distract the Americans from their relentless and increasing destructive multi-pronged offensive against them. It was hoped that some magical solution could be invented that would shift the American war-fighting focus to homeland defense. The IJN pinned their hopes on submarine aircraft carriers that could raid American Pacific coast naval bases or cripple the Panama Canal by destroying the lock gates. Their concept resulted in the I-400-class submarine which though a remarkable technological feat, never accomplished its mission. The Americans were unaware of its existence and consequently made no efforts to defend against it.

The Japanese Army had a different solution — setting alight America's vast northwestern forests by bombs carried by balloons. These "balloon bombs" were essentially clockwork robots lofted into the trans-Pacific jet stream (an atmospheric phenomenon yet unknown to western science) by hydrogen gasbags made of specially treated paper. Their potential to threaten cities or industries was feeble, but as a means to ignite catastrophic forest fires the Japanese balloon bombs had a certain fanciful credibility, enough that the Forest Service, originally a New Deal make-work agency, created a corps of parachute firefighters, (overwhelmingly African Americans, btw) who could be inserted by air to a remote wildfire triggered by one of those bombs that could not be reached quickly by road. These smoke jumpers had a panché that made publicists and PR experts drool, which assured that the program would continue and expand even after Japan was defeated and disarmed.

Another effect of the war was cultural, the United States federal government became an institution accustomed to budgeting matters reckoned in hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars, orders of magnitude greater than anything prior to 1942. When the military ceased to be the focus of spending civilian agencies began to scramble for shares of that ocean of money collected in tax revenues, and the cannily run agencies realized that the way to succeed in that competition was to have a strong public demand for the services they delivered, and that demand for any service or product could be enhanced by advertising — billboards, posters, songs, jingles, mascots, contests, films, radio and television — every means used by the hucksters of beer and pretzels could be employed by government agencies to create and enlarge public support for their activities and especially their budgets. In 1945 the Department of the Interior was run by one of the canniest men ever to serve the national government, Harold Ickes, and the Forest Service benefitted hugely.

Quaestor said...

Ickes' successor, Julius Krug, was the beneficiary of the third historical development — drought. By 1950 the northwestern forests were tinderbox dry. A few random thunderstorms sparks wildfires in Montana, Idaho, and Washington which consumed tens of millions of acres of valuable timber. It was in one of these fires that an orphaned black bear cub was rescued by Forest Service firefighters which they named "Smokey". And from that incident, a public relations legend was born.

Pettifogger said...

This is not exactly a point of grammar, but even the Forest Service, whose creation good ol' Smokey is, apparently has been inconsistent. So why should this not be guided by the prescriptivist/descriptivist fight?

In most grammar matters, I think of myself as a prescriptivist, but I understand that, in the end, descriptivists must win. Here, I'm with the descriptivists in believing it should be Smokey the Bear.

Pettifogger said...

Besides, "Smokey the Bear" has a more appealing meter than "Smokey Bear."

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MacMacConnell said...

His name is "Smokey". I know this because I've owned a stuffed bear since the 1950s. His ranger hat says "Smokey" on the front, his belt buckle says "Smokey".

Quaestor said...

The 1980s advertising profession was dominated by executives who believed that newness was the killer concept. The snooty and bigoted Woodstock generation had grown up to become the ruling consumers, replacing their parents who valued and trusted established brands. Being "anti-Establishment" the marketing key to the Boomer generation was deemed to be newness. Therefore the mavens of public relations encouraged their clients to re-invent their products, however slight or trivial the revision. Perhaps the most notorious example was New Coke. As an actual product revision, it was a total failure. But incidental to the minor formula revision changes to packaging, logos, and nomenclature were profound and lasting. Gone were the distinctive bottles, so thoughtfully designed by the Root Glass Company, along with the swirling script logo, and even the product name itself. To those 19th-century Americans who were the first to consume sweetened carbonated beverages, coke was that smelly industrial fuel used in the production of steel which gave everything and everyone in the city of Pittsburgh a certain "air" — and definitely nothing one should eat or drink. Today far fewer than one percent know coke to be anything other than the chief alternative to Pepsi. Try this experiment, next time you order at McDonald's ask for Coca-Cola. Odds are the server won't know that beverage is also called Coke. That's what the new craze wrought.

Another child of the newness-obsessed '80s was "Smokey Bear". Changing the mascot's name was the Forest Service's homage to McLuhan media theory. "Smokey the Bear" was an Establishment brand. Dropping the the made him anti-Establishment. And it ceded to kindergarteners the authority to correct their befuddled elders — No, Daddy, it's "Smokey Bear" — that was the gist of a widely released PSA used to introduce the new Forest Service mascot. He will still the old cartoon bear in every other respect — the same hat, the same dungarees, the same spade, and the same basso profundo voice warning that "only YOU can prevent forest fires." But deleting the definite article made him different enough to be new and therefore relevant to the kind of idiots who cause forest fires.

(reposted due to multiple idiotic typos)

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

"Huggy Bear" was the pimp frequenting the "1-Hour Hotel" in Detroit

Bobb said...

The media confirms it is Trump the racist fascist.

JAORE said...

Is WTF really WF? Have we been wrong all this time?

Do you have a tag for first world problems, elite edition?

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