Billiken | St. Louis Public Radio

Billiken

Florence Pretz's original design for the Billiken, patented in 1908.
Saint Louis University Archives

If you walk through the Saint Louis University campus, you’ll almost certainly run into their unusual mascot, the Billiken, in some form. The Billiken is a pointy-headed, grinning imp covered in white fur, and it’s everywhere: banners, statues—even parking spaces outside the admissions office are reserved for future Billikens.

As SLU is in the midst of celebrating its founding 200 years ago, an in-depth look at the university's unusual mascot seemed timely.

What exactly is a Billiken?

A sampling of SLU students at the student center had a guess.

Saint Louis University's newest version of the Billiken mascot, unveiled Wed., Jan. 25, 2017.
Saint Louis University

That old adage about not succeeding the first time and trying again certainly applies to Saint Louis University's mascot.

On Wednesday night, the university unveiled its new Billiken mascot, which is a re-do of a re-do.

The school first revamped its mythical symbol last September, but it was quickly met with disgust and jeers. 

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot as of September 2016
Bill Barrett | provided by SLU

Stung by the negative reception given its recent revamping of the Billiken mascot, Saint Louis University wants public input for a do-over.

SLU President Fred Pestello resorted to his favorite communication channel, Twitter, on Tuesday in a politically themed presentation titled "Decision 2016." It directs anyone interested in helping to shape Billiken 3.0 to an online poll to give views on the color, eyes, hairdo and other features on the upcoming revision.

The new Billiken mascot introduced in September 2016.
Bill Barrett/provided by SLU

The new Saint Louis University mascot is turning out to be a lot like New Coke.

After the revamped Billiken was introduced last month to a barrage of criticism, with adjectives like “petrifying,” “terrifying” and “the laughing stock of the nation,” SLU President Fred Pestello took to Twitter Tuesday to hint broadly that the new Billiken is in for big changes.

SLU's new version of its Billiken mascot as of September 2016
Bill Barrett | provided by SLU

Saint Louis University wanted its new Billiken mascot to be a little edgier, but based on reaction after it was introduced earlier this week, the school may have fallen over the edge.

Comments on Facebook, numbering more than 600 by Thursday morning, were overwhelmingly negative, starting with a mild “This is not ok” and going swiftly downhill from there. Signatures on an online petition calling on SLU President Fred Pestello to bring back the older, cuddlier version rose quickly past 1,500.