Michelin Mannen op trekker

How did the Michelin Man originate?

Almost everyone knows him and he is also very popular among truckers: the Michelin Man. In 2019 this man celebrated his 120th birthday. But how did he originate?

All images in this blog post are provided by Michelin.

In this blog article you’ll read:

The creation

The Michelin Man was conceived in 1889 by the French Michelin brothers André and Edouard. They are the founders of the Michelin tyres. The idea was born at the World Fair in Lyon in 1894. André noticed a pile of tires at their stand. Edouard then said ‘Look, with arms and legs it almost looks like a man’. Four years later, in 1898, cartoonist O’Galop created the Michelin Man as an advertising image on paper.


O’Galop had based his advertising image on a poster he had previously drawn for a German beer brewery. On that poster stood a king raising his glass. The king pronounced the Latin words ‘Nunc est bibendum’, meaning ‘Now it’s time to drink.

O’Galop replaced the king with the Michelin Man. The Michelin Man held a glass of spikes in his hand, with which he toasted. O’Galop added extra text ‘Le pneu Michelin boit l’obstacle’ (the Michelin tyre drinks the obstacle). Michelin’s message was that their tyres were of excellent quality. Even spikes and other sharp objects wouldn’t rupture the tyre. This poster had caused the Michelin Man to be called ‘Bibendum’.

Changing looks

The poster was used until 1908. In those years the popularity of Bibendum grew. He could be seen on more and more posters and in cartoons. Later also on maps and guides of the brand as well. There were even mascots of him at events. The appearance that the Michelin Man had in his early days was very luxurious. This was due to the fact that he held a cigar and a glass of wine. Over the years more and more people could afford a car. Therefore the appearance of Bibendum changed. He became friendlier and the cigar and glass of wine disappeared. The car tyres had also changed a lot over time. That’s why the appearance of the Michelin Man went from thin and high tires to smaller and wider tires.

Bibendum with a cigar

In the fifties Bibendum was so popular that he became part of modern pop culture. He got more muscular and sporty. From then on Bibendum was portrayed running for 20 years.

Later in the early 2000’s he even got a 3D look.

The evolution of Bibendum

Bibendum in 2020

In 2000, the Financial Times crowned the Michelin Man as the best logo of the twentieth century. To this day, you can still see him everywhere on tyres, trucks and maps.


Michelin has his own museum ‘L’ Aventure Michelin’. Here you can see the history of Michelin, which is exhibited on more than 2,000 m².

Michelin guide

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were very few cars in the whole of France. That’s why Michelin wanted to stimulate car use. They did this with the Michelin Guide. In this guide you could find good hotels and restaurants, but also information about garages, petrol stations and toilets. This was the free version of the guide. Later the guide became paid, because it was sometimes used as a workbench support in garages. Of course that was not the intention. The paid guide got more information about where to go for nearby workshops and Michelin tyre depots, for recharging a battery electric motor and for fuel. The assembly and repair of the tyres was also explained in the guides.

The Michelin Guide of 1900

The Michelin Guide of 2020

Michelin Star

In 1926 the Michelin Star was introduced in the Michelin Guide. Inspectors began to assess the quality of restaurants. The star was only awarded when the cuisine was ‘exceptionally’ good, with unique flavours and good service. This proved to be a great success among readers. That’s why in 1931 the Michelin Star was extended to three stars. To the present day, this rating is still used.

The Michelin Star

Michelin Tyres

Michelin tyres are available in summer, winter and all-season tyres for cars and trucks, among others. Michelin has years of experience. They were also the first to make a rubber tyre for carriages, cars and even trains.

On TrucksNL you can find the right Michelin tyres for your truck.

Sources (in Dutch):