CHICAGO -- Though Halloween had yet to strike when the 2017 NACS Show hit Chicago’s McCormick Place on Oct. 17-20, there were plenty of costumed characters wandering the show floor.
Since it was my first NACS Show, I made it my mission to locate and document as many of these creatures in their “natural” habitats as I could find during my time between booth visits. There were robots, wild hairy men, various snacks and candies waddling around and, of course, animals, including chickens, dogs and tigers. There was also the ever-elusive Haribo bear, which unfortunately escaped my efforts at mascot documentation.
Next year, Haribo bear. Next year.
Until then, here are 10 mascots I was able to catch up with during the NACS Show and a brief description of my experience with each of them …
The Pugs dog
Cutest first. This little guy was incredibly well-behaved, especially considering the huge crowds walking back and forth all day.
Though I didn’t catch his (or her) name, the dog was with Pugs, the sunglasses and apparel provider, and was an ace at posing for the camera. The dog at the booth even matched the dog depicted in the silver Pugs logo. All it needed was a pair of sunglasses.
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto
Running into this robot started me on my mascot quest. His name is Maxx the Robot from GigaMaxx, and he was essentially a walking advertisement for Titan Cloud Software. Normally Maxx provides entertainment for fairs and parties, but he walked the show floor to get a taste of the c-store world during the NACS Show.
I briefly interviewed Maxx’s handler, a human walking around with him. My guess is that there is a human pilot inside Maxx, but his handler confirmed nothing about the robot’s inner workings.
Both Red and Yellow were wandering the show floor throughout the conference, usually sticking close to the Mars candy booth.
The walking chocolate treats were happy to let me take photos of them. It may appear as though Red is off-balance in this picture, but don’t be fooled. These two have been around a long time and they’re professionals.
The Jack Link's Sasquatch
Contrary to the evidence in Jack Link's beef jerky commercials on TV, Sasquatch is very friendly. He was excited to take a photo with me. He even left the snacks in my bag alone. He stayed close to the Jack Link's booth, so he probably had plenty of sustenance.
Chester the Chicken
Luckily Chester of Chester’s Chicken was keeping order on the floor. That’s what I assume he was doing wearing that sheriff’s badge. Hopefully he didn’t see me eating any of his kin. I sampled a lot of chicken at the show.
Tony the Tiger was popular. I had to wait in a line filled with showgoers eager to get a photo with him. He didn’t say his catchphrase for me, but I didn’t push him. I’m sure he gets it all the time, and I didn’t want to be that fan.
The Budweiser Clydesdales
Two of the Budweiser Clydesdales were out on the floor in Anheuser-Busch's booth. With plenty of hay and oats, the horses seemed clean and well-cared for. They were just as beautiful as they appear in the Clydesdale commercials, but I would have given just about anything to see them trotting around McCormick Place.
Twinkie the Kid
The Western-themed Twinkie mascot, Twinkie the Kid, has represented Hostess since 1971. Even though he’s getting up there in years for a mascot, he was happy to take a photo with me and dropped an always on-trend peace sign.
Sour Patch Kid
Normally, in the Sour Patch Kids commercials, these little person-shaped candies are sour. They cause a little trouble. But then they’re sweet and they help alleviate the problem they caused. This guy, however, was nothing but sweet. He let me take a photo with him and even waved to the camera.
In true hipster fashion, I didn’t just get a picture with the ambulatory Pabst Blue Ribbon can, I snagged a selfie with it in a throwback to my college days.