Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Salty Elven Bugbear
The distinctive mustache-face of the Salty Elven Bugbear has been a mainstay of greeting cards and flannel underwear for over 75 years. It's not surprising that kids love this charming little marsupial, since the Bugbear is one of the cuddliest, friendliest, most warm-hearted, and most harmless creatures on the planet.
The Salty Elven Bugbear, much like its cousin the Koala, is native to the Eucalyptus groves of Australia. The Bugbear, in keeping with its gentle nature, only eats leaves that have already fallen off the tree. Its mating ritual consists of a distinctive gesture that non-scientific obervers often liken to "blowing kisses". The reality, of course, is that the Bugbears are flinging mucus at each other in an attempt to identify the perfect mate. The bugbear got his colorful name from naive early observers who saw the bugbears high up in the trees during a mating ritual and thought they looked like elves spitting at each other.
Bugbear popularity spiked in the 1930's when Warner Brothers introduced "Peter O'Saltey", a cartoon character that portrayed a Salty Elven Bugbear as a swashbuckling, womanizing, rum-swilling fun-lover who defeated Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam by being so nice that the hunters could no longer bring themselves to shoot him. In the Academy award-winning cartoon O'Saltey and Pepper, Peter convinces Daffy Duck to shoot himself in the head with a Blunderbuss so that Peter can escape being sent to a zoo. The hilarious cartoon became an instant classic and made Peter one of the most popular characters in the Looney Tunes stable for over ten years. In the early 1950's, with America in a Cold War, Peter O'Saltey was accused of being a product of anti-American, communistic thinking, and the Bugbear was retired. Steven Spielberg tried to revive the character as part of the Animaniacs in the 1980's, but a protest by Christian rights groups put an end to the idea.
Nevertheless, the Salty Elven Bugbear is an extremely popular part of any child's stuffed animal collection, and the charming little bugbear is popular on greeting cards and in the toy market. In literature, Betrix Potter's novel The Bugbear and the Elf tells the story of a Salty Elven Bugbear who is born without pointy ears. The punk rock band The Buzzbears is inspired by the Warner Brothers cartoon, and the lead singer is called "Peter O'Saltey."