The Halifax Oyster Festival Mascot Meme, Explained

Twitter user Amy Langdon was checking out Facebook when she came upon a shocking picture. It turned out to be the mollusk mascot for the Halifax Oyster Festival. So far, the post has garnered more than 200,000 likes, and 3,600 people have replied to the tweet with their own reactions to the strange shell costume with 13 eyes and haunting lips. The Halifax Oyster Festival is Canada's largest oyster festival and is run by Halifax's newspaper The Coast, per Buzzfeed News. The oyster mascot goes by the name Pearl. Newspaper publisher Christine Oreskovich worked with two artists to create a mascot for the festival back in 2017. The initial mock-up was made out of paper mache. Oreskovich told Buzzfeed News, "She is often seen dancing at the festival. Obviously, she's staring longingly back at the ocean, which is because we're right on the waterfront when we do it." 

Pearl now has a companion named Earl, because she was so popular that the festival needed a second mascot. In other words, festival goers were apparently much happier about the presence of Pearl than Twitter users were by her picture! Pearl and Earl look very much alike, but that makes sense because oysters are actually able to change their gender, per Vox. Oreskovich relished Pearl becoming a viral phenomenon overnight. "We were just laughing out loud. We have loved this thing for so long and no one's really appreciated how cool and weird and messed up it is, until now."

Internet users love and hate the oyster mascot

Twitter users took to comparing the mascot to a variety of other pop culture phenomena. User @RonenV said about Pearl, "Ma'am, that is a Doctor Who villain," while another suggested the oyster should be a member of the Addams Family. Meanwhile, over on Reddit, users turned Pearl into a meme on the popular r/PhotoshopBattles subreddit. Redditor r/jjenkins_41 melded the mascot into a photo of the Power Rangers. One Twitter user, a self-professed oyster expert, @DantheClamMan, said this about the mascot: "Oysters do have eyespots, particularly during their larval stage, but in some species, they continue to be able to see into adulthood! However, the eyes are on the mantle, not the shell. Also the mouth is inside the animal. Still, A+ for effort #clamfacts"

This September will be the fifth Halifax Oyster Festival, per the event's official website. It sounds pretty fantastic — it takes place on the Halifax waterfront and features a shucking competition and an all-you-can-eat raw bar! The oyster fest's social media was happy to jump on the virality of their mascot. The official Instagram posted a 'how it started / how it's going' meme of Pearl alone and then Pearl with Earl. It's safe to say that the festival will be popular this year due to the unexpected social media phenomenon that Pearl has become.