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Media Contact: Marla Carpenter, 770-3337, carpem@uncsa.edu



WINSTON-SALEM – The Fighting Pickle of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has been named the “Cheesiest College Mascot” in the nation by Chester Cheetah, the mischievous spokescat for Cheetos, a leading brand from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division.

“Impressively, this top honor goes to a university without an actual athletics program, demonstrating that mascot mastery can happen anywhere,” Cheetah said.

The Fighting Pickle overcame strong competition from mascots including No. 2 Kernel Cobb of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn.; No. 3 Gladys, the Fighting Squirrel of Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Va.; No. 4 YoUDee, Fightin' Blue Hen of University of Delaware, Newark, Del.; and No. 5 The Blue Hose of Presbyterian College, Clinton, S.C.

The list also honored the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UNCSA’s sister campus and UNC-system flagship, for its mascot, Rameses, the Ram, coming in at No. 15.

A press release from Frito-Lay North America said that Chester Cheetah assembled his “exclusive ranking” to celebrate his “quirky counterparts at universities and colleges around the country” and to give college sports fans “a cheesier set of rankings to follow.”

According to Cheetah, rankings for his inaugural list are based on “cheese factor and all-around silliness,” and drew from “an admittedly unscientific analysis of college mascots nationwide.”

The Fighting Pickle (aka the Fighting Pickles) became the School of the Arts’ mascot in 1972 as the result of a campus-wide contest. At that time, the seven-year-old school was planning its first Homecoming celebration, and needed a name for its intramural football team.

No official records exist to explain how the mascot was chosen; only the memories of some alumni and stories passed down from one generation to the next remain. However, the origins of the Fighting Pickle have become something of a campus legend.

Over the years, various versions of a Fighting Pickle have been rendered, but in 2010, UNCSA sponsored a contest to produce an official Pickle. The winning design was unveiled at an event held in the Pickle Jar, the school’s snack bar. Entertainment was provided by an a cappella group, the Sweet Pickles, and refreshments included fried pickles. Dina Perez, then a graduate student studying costume design in UNCSA’s School of Design and Production, submitted the winning entry (http://www.uncsa.edu/visitorscenter/PickleMascot.htm).

Upon joining the School of the Arts in 2006, UNCSA Chancellor John Mauceri and his wife, Betty, adopted a Chocolate Lab and named her “Pickles.” For a photo, see: http://www.uncsa.edu/chancellor/.

As Chancellor Mauceri says: “The Fighting Pickles are peerless and remain undefeated!” 

Chancellor John Mauceri with the UNCSA Fighting Pickle

UNCSA Fighting Pickle

For more information and a list of Chester Cheetah’s official Top 25 Cheesiest Mascots, see: http://www.pepsico.com/PressRelease/Cheetos-Brand-Celebrates-College-Sports-With-Inaugural-Top-25-Cheesiest-Mascots-08202012.html.

Cheetos is one of the billion-dollar brands that makes up Frito-Lay North America, the $13 billion convenient foods business unit of PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), which is headquartered in Purchase, N.Y. Learn more about Cheetos by visiting www.cheetos.com or www.facebook.com/cheetos.

As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. World-renowned conductor and educator John Mauceri became Chancellor of UNCSA in 2006. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.