55 years of Mainzelmännchen

Since the lauch of the Second German Television (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen – ZDF) in 1963, the Mainzelmännchen have appeared daily on German TV screens. Up until today, they have starred in more than 55,000 (!) episodes, each between 3–6 seconds long.

The Mainzelmännchen, which take their name from the channel’s headquarters in Mainz and the Heinzelmännchen tale about little house gnomes that do all the work of others during the night, appear at the beginning of TV ads as a law requires .

Over time they developed into six distinct characters: the lazy Anton, the industrious Berti (green shirt), the musical Conni (blue cap), the clever Det (glasses), the mischievous Edi and the athletic Fritzchen. Given that they have been on air since the early 1960s, the characters also saw a series of makeovers. While their initially melon-shaped heads that reminded me of a teenage version of Stewie Griffin from Family Guy have become rounder and rounder, they have kept their distinct hats. They seem to occupy a similar place in German society as the Cabbage Patch Kids did in the United States. Given that they have lasted for so long they have come to reflect the aspirations of each successive generation in Germany. I’m curious to see if and how the characters will develop further in the future and if they will continue to be drawn by hand as they still are today.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.