Purdue Pete's Child-Terrorizing Days Are Numbered

Purdue is redesigning their mascot, after many complaints about scared children. Not this li'l tyke, though; Purdue Pete swallowed him whole before he could register fear.

Look at him. An appalling amalgam of a 1950s movie star and a steel worker, this unsettling simulacrum of a man runs neck and neck with the original "Nightmare Fuel" tag inspiration, fellow Indianan Nightmare Ant. I came thisclose to wetting myself just doing a Google Image search for pictures of Pete, so just imagine how the kids have been reacting.

Look, I'm the one who gets the phone calls from parents who say that big face scares their 3-year-old," said Morgan Burke, athletic director.

[snip]

"We learned very quickly that you approach kids very cautiously," said David McGaughey, 48, Lafayette, who was one of those Purdue Pete mascots from 1981 to 1984.

"Some of the kids just had big smiles and could not wait to touch you. But others did have fear in their eyes, so I'd stay away from them and just wave."

Purdue Pete has been updated over the years (he wore a leisure suit at one point), but not since the 1980s. So the school is finally giving him a makeover, bringing him into the 21st century; and hopefully making him less of a walking horror.

It's more about the eyes and the mouth," [Teri Lucie Thompson, Purdue's VP of Marketing] said. "He has a very square jaw and kind of cleft chin. Does that stay? The fear could be coming from his eyes. How do you balance that intensity, keep the competitive fire in the eyes, but also make sure there is approachability?"

How do you make sure there's approachability? Scrap Pete altogether and replace him with something more kid friendly, like Cthulhu or the Child Catcher.

(Photo from this gallery of Purdue Pete and future victims)

Purdue Pete getting makeover [Indianapolis Star]