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It’s clear that baseball isn’t just fun-and-games — it’s billion-dollar industry, after all — but the line gets mustardy when the job at hand is producing 10-foot tall foam hot dog costumes. At Olympus Flag & Banner, there is no shame in knowing how the sausage gets made, reports AOL Small Business.
The Milwaukee-based company first opened in 1893, producing banners, pennants, and American flags, which it still makes today.
Forty years ago, Olympus began making McDonald’s characters, creating the original Grimace and Hamburglar costumes. Today, mascot production comprises about 20 percent of the company’s $18 million revenue, with corporate characters like Tony the Tiger, the Geico Gecko, and Yogi Bear, ensuring bulk mascot orders and recurring refurbishing.
Mascots range from $500 to $8,000 with an average of around $2,500. The detail work is so intricate and specialized that Olympus couldn’t outsource the work, even if it wanted to.
“We’re the largest producer of mascots in the U.S.,” says owner Brian Adam. “It’s an exciting market where we get to make cool creative characters.”
And Adam knows a thing or two about giant furry getups. He spent his formative college years as Bucky Badger, mascot of the University of Wisconsin. He says his personal claim-to-fame, and consultation with the current Badgers, has actually helped in the development of Olympus’s mascot technology. For instance, Bucky’s head weighed 25 pounds, which limited movement, so it’s now carbon fiber and 15 pounds lighter.
His background has helped expand Olympus’s college circuit, and now some of the most well-known costumes they produce are the Florida Gator, the UCLA Bruin, and Alabama’s “Big Al” the Elephant.
Photo by Olympus Flag & Banner.