Our history

Our history

Gargoyles, winged horses and tigers

As we’ve made changes, mergers, and more, so too have our trademarks, icons and advertising campaigns evolved. Here are a few particularly memorable examples.
  • Gargoyle, Vacuum Oil used a stylized red gargoyle to advertise


    As early as 1869, Vacuum Oil used a stylized red gargoyle to advertise petroleum-based lubricants for horse-drawn carriages and steam engines.

  • Pegasus, The flying red horse used by Vacuum Oil in South Africa


    The flying red horse was first used by Vacuum Oil in South Africa in 1911. In 1931, when Vacuum merged with Socony, the red Pegasus – a symbol of speed and power – was adopted as its U.S. trademark. In 1968, Mobil adopted new-look Pegasus service stations. The red Pegasus remains among the most recognized corporate symbols in American petroleum history.

The tiger first appeared as a mascot for Esso in Norway around the turn of the 20th century. The tiger surfaced again in the 1950’s, when Esso started using it to represent quality and power. In 1959, the tiger rose to fame in the U.S. when an advertising copywriter coined the now famous phrase, “Put a tiger in your tank.” The phrase launched numerous ads, jingles and TV commercials that became so popular, Time Magazine dubbed 1964 "The Year of the Tiger Along Madison Avenue."



Did you know?

As a company with such a close association with the tiger, Esso, together with its parent company, ExxonMobil, was instrumental in the establishment of the Save The Tiger Fund in 1995. Today, ExxonMobil contributes $1 million a year to help conserve Asia's remaining wild tigers.

Happy motoring

From the road to the racetrack, Americans have always counted on Exxon and Mobil to get them where they want to go.
  • Happy characters

    On the road

    In 1958, Jersey Standard offered free road maps to customers as part of its Happy Motoring campaign. The maps featured ‘Happy’ the Oil Drop Man – an advertising character that was first introduced by Esso’s Danish company during World War II. Today, thousands of Exxon and Mobil customers use our online Fuel Finder to help them on their journeys.

  • Ralph De Palma, winner of the Indianapolis 500

    On the track

    In 1915, Ralph De Palma, winner of the Indianapolis 500, was the first of many Indy winners to use Mobil products. Today ExxonMobil is a proud partner and fuel supplier of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.

Did you know?

Our advanced racing formula is developed in the same technology center as the Exxon- and Mobil-branded Synergy™ fuels you use every day in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and the fuels share similar properties.

Innovation takes flight

For more than a century, we have been a leading innovator in aviation technologies.
  • The Wright brothers used Jersey Standard fuel and Mobiloil (Vacuum) lubricants

    The Wright brothers

    In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright used Jersey Standard fuel and Mobiloil (Vacuum) lubricants for their historic first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

  • First trans-Atlantic commercial flight, Pan American Airways used Mobil aviation fuel

    Charles Lindbergh & Amelia Earhart

    Both of these famous pilots used Mobil oil in their historic cross Atlantic flights. Lindberg in the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927, and Earhart in Friendship in 1928.

  • Propeller flight

    First trans-Atlantic commercial flight

    In 1958, Pan American Airways used Mobil aviation fuel in its first transatlantic Boeing 707 flight from New York to London.

Did you know?

ExxonMobil donated aviation fuel for the first commercial flight of the Airbus A380 in 2007, as part of a global fundraiser. Passenger tickets were acquired by auction for the 8,000-mile round-trip flight, which raised $1.3 million for charity.

Famous firsts

Throughout our history, we have been pioneers in products and technology that impact the way the world uses energy. Here are a few of our more famous firsts:
  • Octane
    In 1938, the world’s first commercial production of Alkylate at a Humble Oil plant in Texas made possible the manufacturing of iso-octane as a blending agent. In 1976, Mobil invented a process for converting methanol into high-octane gasoline. Today, all North American gasoline contains octane and gasoline grades are based on octane ratings
  • Motor oil
    In 1952, Jersey Standard introduced Uniflo motor oil, the first multigrade motor oil for both summer and winter use. In 1974, Mobil introduced the first synthetic motor oil – Mobil 1™. Today, Mobil 1 is the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand
  • Detergent gasolines
    In 1968, Mobil was the first to develop detergent gasolines. Detergents help to reduce buildup of harmful deposits inside fuel injectors. Today, all Exxon and Mobil gasoline grades contain detergent additives. In fact, our gasolines contain significantly more than the minimum quantities required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Pay at the pump
    In 1986, Mobil became the first gas retailer in the U.S. to introduce pay at the pump. In 1997, Mobil introduced the Speedpass™ key tag, the first mobile payment device. In 2015, ExxonMobil released the Speedpass+™ app, the industry’s first mobile payment app –followed by the Exxon Mobil Rewards+™app, which integrated paymentand rewards, in 2019.
  • Gasoline for better gas mileage**
    In 2016, released Fuel Technology Synergy™ gasolines. Developed with 7 key ingredients to help improve fuel economy, Synergy gasolines represent 130 years of engineering in making.