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The Story of Sinclair's "Dino"

From the Patriot and Free Press, August 12, 2008.


50 Years Since Sinclair!
by Ron Taylor

As 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of Sinclair leaving Wellsville and Allegany County, hardly a mention of the name ... it was a painful separation! Looking at the Sinclair tradition and all that it gavie in a way of life for the county residents over the years Sinclair had a rich tradition within the county and its oil history.

Once of the most obvious and recognized items of the era was the "Apatosaurus" better known to us as a dinosaur.

How did Dino come to represent Sinclair? I quote the official Sinclair website with their story. Their website states,

"Sinclair began development of the apatosaurus (brontosaurus) in its advertising, sales promotions, and product labels in 1930. The apatosaurus was registered as a Sinclair trademark in 1932. An exhibit at the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair highlighted dinosaurs and established Sinclair as the company that featured the apatosaurus. Again in 1964 at the New York City World's Fair, Sinclair proudly displayed an exhibit featuring nine lifesized dinosaurs highlighting its unique association with the agi of the dinosaur--an age representative of the beginning of the formation of crude oil.

"In 1930, Sinclair's advertising writers noted that Wellsville refined lubricants -the best in the trade- derived from Pennsylvania grade crudes laid down more than 270 million years earlier. These oils were mellowing in the ground during the Mesozoic era when dinosaurs populated the earth. The obvious sales message was: the oldest crudes make the best oils. But how to dramatize this?

"A series of advertisements in 104 newspapers and five national magazines feature a dozen of the strange dinosaurs, from hideous-fanged tyrannosaurus rex and three-hored triceratops, to the unaggressive, vegetarian apatosaurus (brontosaurus), a 40-ton lizard with neck and tail each 30 feet long. The campaign -confined entirely to Wellsville oils- was a great success. The curiosity value of it was tremendous.

"But there was a significant and unexpected windfall. One of the dinosaurs generated a remarkable popular appeal, in fact was a real glamour boy: peace-loving but massive apatosaurus. The public equatyed him with power, endurance and stamina, the prime qualities of Sinclair products.

"Without any particular promotion, the public accepted the apatosaurus affectionately as Sinclair's "Dino." He's been Dino ever since."

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