The Picayune Frog becomes our beloved Weather Prophet.

the Picayune Frog

The 1896 Guide was the Picayune Frog

In the 1890s, the Picayune’s Guide to New Orleans served as one of the best local tourist publications for the city. The “guide” for the 1896 edition was the “Picayune Frog.” The newspaper adopted the frog two years earlier and put him to work as their Weather Prophet. His popularity grew in a couple of years. By 1896, he was your guide.

I’m the Picayune Frog;
Will you venture a jog with me?
You may foot it, or ride;
But a capital Guide I’ll be.

Our friend the Weather Prophet graced the pages of the Daily Picayune and its successor, the Times-Picayune, for almost 80 years.

Origins of the Weather Prophet

the picayune frog

end note in the 1896 Picayune Guide to New Orleans

The 1896 Guide offers some background on our friend:

The Picayune Frog is one of the institutions of New Orleans. He was discovered in the city one day early in January, 1894, and invited to take a place on the Picayune as Weather Prophet, a position which the pursuits of his early life had eminently qualified him to fill. Thursday, Jan. 11, 1894, was the memorable day on •which he first made his appearance in his new role, dressed in the identical costume represented in the accompanying cut.

“Cut” refers to “woodcut,” a common print item used to publish illustrations. The image was “cut” into wood, either by hand or using an electrostatic technique. Once cut, the printer added the images to type blocks to form a page of the newspaper. This is why the Picayune Frog adopted the same pose and wardrobe in the early years.

So, our friend the Picayune Frog made such a solid impression on the staff in two years, he became the Guide’s spokes-frog. Our friend’s popularity skyrocketed. Like modern celebrities, the Frog received one of the ultimate compliments from New Orleans society: invitations and inclusions into Carnival:

He has had music dedicated to him by composers; he has been pasted into thousands of scrap-books, and last year, by special invitation, he occupied an honorable place in the Mardi Gras parades.

The Picayune was a Mardi Gras celebrity long before Bacchus. Later, there would even be jewelry and art work featuring our friend.


Liked it? Take a second to support NOLA History Guy on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!