When Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released to wide audiences, it was believed by some in the UFO community that it would have an impact on UFO reports. And yet it didn’t. CEIII reports continued to vary during a time when UFO contact wasn’t homogenous with reports of the grays, tall nordics and reptilian shape changers that has dominated much of UFO literature since the late 80s.

That’s not to say that culture has never influenced sighting reports. In 1947, with Kenneth Arnold’s encounter with 9 objects that flew “like saucers skipping across water,” the reports that followed were often similarly described objects. And as 1950s science-fiction drew its inspiration from the cold war, the contactees reported encounters with beings not dissimilar to Klaatu Barada Nikto.

Despite the influences of the period, pop culture archetypes didn’t show up in sighting reports with the exception of one. From the mid 1950s onward, witnesses from across the globe have reported encounters with beings that resemble The Michelin Man, that enigmatic mascot for the Michelin tire company. 

Actor, writer, producer, and UFO investigator Steve Berg, known for his roles on The Good Place, Adventure Time, Drunk History, Tag, and the wonderful podcast, Voyage to the Stars, joins me to discuss these terrifying figures, their weird singular black boots, and why they suck so bad at walking on earth. 


The Secret History of the Michelin Man, Fast Company, 2014

The” Michelin Band” performs at the inauguration of the Michelin Hour radio show, April 17, 1928. [900×620], reddit

Case 55-05 of the HUMCAT (Humanoid Catalog)

Flying Saucer Review Case Histories #1

“STRANGE BEINGS NEAR JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA (CADIZ) IN 1960” by Miguel Peyró Garcia, A.P.R.O. Bulletin V 29 N 1, July 1980

Eyewitneses says they had contact with “michelin man” a like aliens, Extraterrestrial and Supernatural

“Contact Casualty on Réunion” translated by Gordon Creighton, FSR 1969 V 15 N 1

Sources: “Another Close Contact on Réunion – Part 1” by Lieut-Colonel Lobet, Flying Saucer Review 1979 V 25 N 2

Another Close Contact on Réunion – Part 2” by Lieut-Colonel Lobet, Flying Saucer Review 1979 V 25 N 3

“Rejuvenation Follows Close Encounter with UFO” by Pedro Romaniuk, FSR 1973 V 19 N 4

Phantoms and Monsters entry for Michelin Men

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Rob Kristoffersen is an amateur UFO researcher from the Adirondacks of Northern New York. He is the host of the podcast, Our Strange Skies: UFOs Throughout History.