He was a tireless public servant, facing indifference and ignorance at every turn. And yet, with the monumental task he was given, he performed like a true hero and made sure that all correspondence was handled in the most efficient manner. He was Mr. Zip, “Zippy” to his friends, and he made the world a better place, five little numbers at a time.
Americans can be stubborn folks sometimes. And in the 60s, when the post office started asking them to include a 5-digit number under each mailing address, few were interested with complying. The post office needed someone that could explain to them that this new number would speed up their mail delivery and make the whole system more efficient. At wits end, they (along with the help of artist Howard Wilcox) devised a lovable little wide-eyed mascot, complete with blue uniform and mailbag, always in a hurry and demonstrating that, with America’s help, he could move even faster.
Unveiled in 1962, Mr. Zip was an overnight sensation. Kids and adults alike fell for the little guy and didn’t want to let him down. Americans begrudgingly adjusted to the new system and today, the Postal Department says that they have achieved a 90% rate of zip code usage. Not a bad accomplishment for a little stick figure. In 1986, The US Postal Service determined that Mr. Zip had fulfilled his service and allowed him to officially retire (most likely to Florida), leaving a legacy of an efficient and swift mail delivery system in his wake. Zippy will always be remembered as a true American hero.
Did Zippy persuade you to add those five numbers to each envelope, or do you just remember him as a quirky, beloved mascot of the era. Help us remember this patron saint of post office proficiency in our comments section as we tip our collective hats to Mr. Zip for a job well done.