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History of “Happy” the Esso Oil Drop Man

The trade name “Esso” (the phonetic pronunciation “S” and “O”, the initials of Standard Oil) was adopted by Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, one of the 34 separate companies created following the breakup of Standard Oil Company, Inc. in 1911. The company began marketing its products under the Esso brand in 1926.

Happy the Esso Oil Drop Man was a well known mascot of the Esso brand (as well as the Enco and Humble Oil brands) from the 1940s to 1960s. Named “Happy”, the “cheerful symbol” of Esso’s popular advertising slogan “Happy Motoring”,  was first introduced in Esso’s Danish advertising campaigns during World War II. Happy the Oil Drop Man finally crossed the pond in 1958 and started to make appearances in United States Esso advertising. 

Esso Service Station circa the early 1960s
Vintage Esso Print Ad featuring Happy

Luckily for Happy, Esso’s advertising team decided he needed some companionship and introduced a svelte oil drop woman to share Happy’s adventures. Called “Mrs. Drop” in some European advertisements, the little lady didn’t really have a name here in the US. Happy and his Missus were often featured on the move, either by car, scooter, or tractor.  They were both featured on promotional items such as keychains, banks, maps, and statuettes.  

Happy and the Missus Doing Some Driving
Happy and the Missus Doing Some Scootering
Happy and the Missus Doing Some Tractoring

Following the success of the “Put a tiger in your tank!” advertising campaign introduced in 1959, Happy was slowly fazed out to be replaced with the company’s tiger mascot. Gone but not forgotten, Happy and his girlfriend have a special place in oil and gasoline advertising history.

Esso Happy Motoring Patch

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