What’s that flying foot in the Goodyear logo all about?

A STAFF REPORT FROM THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD

Dear Straight Dope:

I know this is an unusual question, and many probably don't have any reason for the answer. The question is this: In the Goodyear logo (as in tires) there is an object in between the GOOD and the YEAR. It looks like a boot with wings. I questioned a "tire consultant" and the called it a wing boot. I asked if the reasoning behind that logo and it's placement and he had no answer. I immediately thought you would know the answer, since you know all.

SDStaff Dogster and SDStaff Gaudere reply:

Don’t they teach mythology in school anymore? The winged foot in the Goodyear logo is meant to depict the winged sandal of the Roman god Mercury, also known as the Greek god Hermes, the messenger of the gods.

Why did Goodyear choose the footwear of Hermes/Mercury to represent their products? I’ll give you highlights from the extremely hokey explanation at the Goodyear website. Frank Seiberling, founder of Goodyear, had always been attracted to a statue of Hermes/Mercury in his Akron home. During an August, 1900 meeting in his house, Seiberling suggested using the wingfoot in the company’s logo. Predictably, his sniveling yes-men agreed, and history was made. The symbol was actually much larger back then, but has reduced in size as time marched (well, rolled) on. For more information, visit the story at www.goodyear.com/us/corporate/origin.html, where you can find such PR gems as, “But it is as a herald of good tidings to users of Goodyear products everywhere that the wingfoot now stands in the minds of the people of the world.”

Uh-huh. Anyway, Jeffie, here’s some more info, since you seem to be a little light in the mythology department. If you spy a lady with snakes for hair, try to avoid eye contact.

SDStaff Gaudere adds:

As a little additional trivia, Mercury was the god of travelers (and thieves, but I bet Goodyear didn’t want to think about that possible interpretation) and there were tiny temples to him on all the roads, called “herms,” where people would leave offerings or pray in the hopes of safe and speedy travel. They were often just blocks of stone with a head and an erect phallus. Pity Goodyear didn’t go for that particular representation.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.

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