These 26 pieces of Izzy memorabilia were actually created

A children’s diary, a putter, suspenders, and more are locked away in the Atlanta History Center’s Izzy archives
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Hosting the Olympics costs a lot of money, so when Atlanta won the 1996 Games, organizers had to find a way to pay for it. What’d they do? Sell, sell, sell! They branded everything in sight with sponsor logos. By the time the torch was extinguished, the organizing committee also generated about $100 million in royalty revenue from licensed memorabilia including ball caps, steering wheel locks, and thousands of collectible pins.

Izzy, the bizarre blue blob that served as Atlanta’s Olympic mascot, helped rake in a quarter of that money. Much of the merch bearing its image now sits in the Atlanta History Center’s basement. We recently took a trip to the Izzy archives, where we found memorabilia that in some cases was as strange than the mascot itself.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseWhatizit stuffed doll
It all started with the Whatizit doll. Pictured below is the first prototype of the soft toy covered in a stretchy, Spandex-like material.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseWhatizit novelty license plate
Your commute could’ve been this much cooler in 1992 if you’d had this on the front of your Ford Escort.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy pins
As with every Olympic Games, there was an abundance of collectible pins. In Atlanta, there was an Izzy pin for every official sport. (There were even pins for some sports, like inline skating, that weren’t a part of the Olympics)

160516_CCK_IZZY_176Whatizit T-shirt
Here’s Whatizit, unknowingly waving goodbye to Atlanta, on a plain white tee.

160516_CCK_IZZY_105_EDITIzzy doll
Once the reimagined Izzy was introduced, plush dolls became one of the best-selling pieces of merchandise leading up to the 1996 Olympics.

160516_CCK_IZZY_172_CMYKIzzy ball cap
There were many Izzy hats, some of which still turn up on eBay. None were as absurd as this one with the mascot holding the torch.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy pennant
Team Izzy or bust.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy plate
You could eat off Izzy…

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy water bottle
…or drink from an Izzy straw.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy pajamas
You could wear Izzy to bed…

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy bow
…or wear Izzy in your hair.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy necktie
Clearly, Izzy ties—in red or black—are pretty rad.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy suspenders
Why not?

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy swim cap
The friendly blue mascot could keep your hair dry in the pool.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy towel
And Izzy could dry you off, too.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseTennis racquet cover
In 1995, Spalding sold a tennis racquet cover showing Izzy practicing his swing.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy putter
Even though golf wasn’t an Olympic sport in 1996, that didn’t stop someone from making an Izzy putter for kids.

160516_CCK_IZZY_145_PATHIzzy basketball
Then-Atlanta Hawks Coach Lenny Wilkens, who led the U.S. men’s basketball team to a gold medal, sadly cut Izzy from his squad.

160516_CCK_IZZY_131_CMYKIzzy computer game
There ain’t no adventure like “Izzy’s Adventure” . . . for Windows 95.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy jigsaw puzzle
If you need family fun, look no further than the 550-piece “Torch World” puzzle.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy backpack
Izzy could carry your textbooks.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy’s diary
And Izzy could also hold your secrets.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy wallet
Go ahead, let Izzy protect your hard-earned cash.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy decorative pen
If you need to sign a check, this mascot’s got you covered.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy Payne brick for Centennial Olympic Park
To pay for the new park, Olympic organizers sold roughly a half-million engraved bricks at $35 a piece. Pictured below, says Don Rooney, director of exhibitions at the Atlanta History Center, is a sample brick.

1996 Atlanta Olympics Izzy merchandiseIzzy’s shoes
No, these size 22 mascot shoes were never made for the masses. But they’re out there, somewhere. Owning a pair might just be the surest proof of Izzy fandom.

Photographs by Caroline C. Kilgore

For more on the mascot, check out our oral history of Izzy.

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