Home Feature news The secret Wikipedia prank behind the Pringles mascot's first name

The secret Wikipedia prank behind the Pringles mascot’s first name

Julius Pringle is living a lie.

The mustache-sporting mascot for the popular Kellogg’s-owned brand of dehydrated processed potato crisps has gone through numerous redesigns over the years, most recently losing his stylized flop of hair, but throughout it all his name has remained a constant: Julius Pringle, or, if a Kellogg’s copywriter was feeling particularly feisty, Mr. P.

Or so the world might have continued to believe were it not for a tossed aside tweet casually revealing the truth behind the moniker. The name “Julius Pringles” — which Kellogg’s claims as officially trademarked, though a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office site for “Julius Pringles” returned no immediate results — looks not to have come from a marketing team, or some long-forgotten Pringles founder. Rather, the name stems from two Wikipedia savvy, hoax-loving college students snacking away on Sour Cream & Onion Pringles in their dorm room back in 2006.

Justin Shillock, who goes by Platypus222 on Twitter, shared an abbreviated version on March 22 of how he says this all went down.

“Short version is that I made up a name for a mustached snack food mascot, added it to Wikipedia, and over time due to luck and a change of ownership it stuck and the company now claims ownership of it,” he wrote.

We reached out to both Pringles and Kellogg’s, which bought Pringles from Procter & Gamble in 2012, in an attempt to verify that claim. We received no immediate response. However, the internet never forgets, and in this case there are enough Julius-related breadcrumbs leading back to Platypus222 to lend some serious credibility to his claim.

For starters, a dig through Wikipedia’s edit history shows an edit, from December of 2006, adding the name “Julius” to the Pringles Wikipedia page. That edit was made by a Wikipedia editor with the handle, you guessed it, Platypus222. (Shillock was able to verify that he still controls the Platypus222 Wikipedia user account.)

There it is.
Credit: Screenshot: Wikipedia

Notably, the claim was unsourced at the time — a fact later called out by a different editor in February of 2007.

When reached for comment, Shillock explained that his Sour Cream & Onion-loving friend in question was Michael Wiseman — who has never hidden his role in Pringles myth making.

Over Twitter direct message, Wiseman and Shillock recalled the birth of Julius — and shared a photo of the two of them in the dorm room in question.

Photo of Michael Wiseman and Justin Shillock in their college dorm room.
Michael Wiseman (right), and Justin Shillock (left), approximately one month before the name Julius was born.
Credit: Justin Shillock

Wiseman:

“Justin and I have been friends since 3rd grade, we roomed together in College, this was in our Freshman Year dorm (2006). He was eating a can of Sour Cream & Onion Pringles, I was watching the Carolina Panthers play, and he asked me what I thought the Pringles mascot was named. I saw Julius Peppers, quickly made that connection and just said stupidly, “Julius Pringles.” Because he was already a Wiki mod, it was easier to slip in (and because Wikipedia wasn’t locked down as much at the time), but we created an Uncyclopedia page about it as well and created a Facebook group later to help spread the lie.

(A Facebook group, created in 2007, with the name “Who knew he was named Julius Pringles” lists Justin Shillock and Michael A. Wiseman as admins.)

Shillock:

I was never actually a Wikipedia “mod”, just a user with enough activity and positive edits to not be immediately questioned. For Uncyclopedia, there actually was already a page on “Boris Pringle” but I copied it wholesale, changed the name, and made a new page before (I think) getting the old one deleted.

Wiseman:

We (or maybe just me) were really into Wikipedia hoaxes at the time — most of them just using my name and attributing it to stuff, and letting Justin as a mod verify it. Because we were on a college campus, it was also easier to mask IP addresses if you did it from a lab or from a different spot on campus, so less likely to get banned from editing.

Shillock:

I was very surprised when it seemed like Pringles officially adopted it, but based on the timing I always assumed that after the sale of the brand from Procter & Gamble to Kellogg’s, some intern didn’t know “Mr. P”‘s first name and looked it up, assuming that P&G came up with this, and used it, thus setting all of this in motion (it also helps that “Julius Pringles” is perfect as a full version of “Mr. P”). I don’t think P&G would have made the mistake.

Justin Shillock and Michael Wiseman in December of 2021.
Justin Shillock and Michael Wiseman in December of 2021.
Credit: Michael Wiseman

So there you have it. Julius Pringle’s origin story lies — like so many brilliant and questionable pranks — in the murky world of the internet.

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