This American Icon Packs His Mailbag With New Series Of Children's Books

This American Icon Packs His Mailbag With New Series Of Children's Books

Photo provided by USPS. 

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Throwing a ZIP code on a letter or using it for the mountain of forms we fill out online has been a part of our lives we rarely consider. Not only do few know what the ZIP letters stand for (Zone Improvement Plan), but its introduction to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) was not an easy one. 

The Post Office Department (POD) introduced the ZIP code to America on July 1, 1963, to speed up mail delivery to a rapidly growing customer base. ZIP codes were made mandatory in 1967. The code was initially used as a social tool for organizing and displaying demographic information, a support structure for entire industries such as insurance and real estate and even a representation of social identities, such as the television show Beverly Hills, 90210. Today, the ZIP code is much more than just a tool for mail efficiency.

But change comes hard for many, and whether they forgot to use it, couldn’t remember the series of numbers or just became conscientious objectors to the requirement, the general use of the ZIP code came slowly. The USPS employed several marketing tools to speed up the adaptation process to get the message across. 

From public service announcements (PSAs) from a group called the Swinging Six to an actual ZIP code song sung by Ethel Merman, the USPS used countless hours of television and radio broadcast time.

But with the high production costs of music and PSAs, it was one specific marketing tool that may have best converted the masses. And that tool was a cartoon character created by the son of a mail carrier, Harold Wilcox, who owned an advertising agency. The name of the character was MR. ZIP™.

MR. ZIP debuted when the 5-cent Sam Houston commemorative stamp was issued with his image printed on the margin. He soon became a phenomenon and a highly recognized icon used by USPS for 22 years, in its print material and as a full-size cardboard cutout placed in post offices across the country. MR. ZIP's image has since appeared on a host of retail items from coffee mugs to T-shirts, but was officially retired in 1986.  

MR. ZIP™ might now be poised for a resurgence into the spotlight, led by the Los Angeles-based family entertainment company Curiosity Ink Media

Curiosity, owned by Grom Social Enterprise Inc. GROM, and its publishing partner, Dynamite Entertainment, will be teaming up with the USPS to reintroduce the character through a new children’s book series. 

In celebrating the 60th anniversary of the ZIP code, the MR. ZIP™ series will reach bookshelves by Fall 2023, featuring nonfiction, novelty, picture books and activity book formats for preschool students and middle-grade readers. 

Moving away from his previous one-dimensional form, MR ZIP™ will, through Curiosity Ink’s ingenuity, move away from a singular job as a deliverer of flat letters and packages. The character will expand his capabilities to include advanced mail systems that underscore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills such as coding and computational mathematics. 

ZIP’s™ original role in educating Americans about ZIP codes, now also allows the creators to offer teachers and parents new uses in developing games, educational toys and tools for teaching aids. 

MR ZIP™ has proven to be both an American icon and a beloved ambassador for the U.S. Postal Service,” USPS Brand Marketing Executive Director Christopher Karpenko said. “He first taught us about the importance of using ZIP codes and today is prepared to unlock an imaginative world for children everywhere. We are delighted to team up with Curiosity Ink Media and Dynamite Publishing to ensure that his legacy endures.”

The MR ZIP™ books will focus on the character's daily activities and occasional adventures with deliveries to the police station, doctor’s office and library as young readers will be able to explore how those in their communities go about their day. The series will offer illustrations, puzzles and colorful stickers with other stories giving children a look behind the counter of the Post Office or just following the journey of a special lost package that needs to be found and rescued by Mr. ZIP™. 

For more information about Curiosity Ink Media, visit

This post contains sponsored advertising content. This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be investing advice.

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