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Dandy Doodles


Think back to the days when you used to actually write on paper. I’m talking about school papers, journal entries, and letters to your pen pals. Okay, are you back there, before the days where everything started as a Word document, a blog post, or an e-mail?  Just how often did your paper wind up looking like this?

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I know, in my life at least, doodling has overtaken many a sheet of paper as I search for an idea... or admittedly just procrastinate. Therefore, it should be no surprise that this blog post starts with the modern-day equivalent.

How often do you find yourself staring at the Google homepage poised for greatness, if only the right inspiration would come? There I was just a few days ago. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button was particularly grating my nerves, as I was feeling quite the opposite. So I clicked. With that single click of the mouse (okay, tap of the touchpad) I opened the treasure box that is the Google doodles archives. 

Most of us are familiar with Google doodles, even if we don’t know they have a specific name. A doodle is the way Google modifies their logo to celebrate a special date or person. This practice started back in 1998. Google explains it best:

“In 1998, before the company was even incorporated, the concept of the doodle was born when Google founders Larry and Sergey played with the corporate logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. They placed a stick figure drawing behind the 2nd "o" in the word Google, and the revised logo was intended as a comical message to Google users that the founders were "out of office." While the first doodle was relatively simple, the idea of decorating the company logo to celebrate notable events was born.”

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Google has come a long way since the days of the Burning Man doodle. Gone are the days where it looks, well, like an actual doodle, as we are now living in the world of HTML5, JavaScript, and Flash.

Some doodles are more memorable than others. Some are reminisced about long after their 24 hour featured life-span, while others fade into oblivion. Some doodles made a big cultural impact. There are many doodles you may have never seen, because some are specific to a country other than your own. Personally, I wonder what the Google doodle will evolve into next, but for now, one thing is for sure… everyone has a favorite. Without further ado, here are my top 5:


5) 30th Anniversary of PAC-MAN

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In my experience, this is by far the most talked-about Google doodle. In fact, Google keeps a playable version here. According to Mashable, the PAC-MAN doodle consumed 4.8 million hours of time, which was broken down to cost $120,483,800 in productivity. Truthfully, I don’t want to admit to how many hours I contributed to that total, but I am happy to say I didn’t factor into the monetary productivity hit, since I was still a student.


4) Scientists Unveil Fossil of Darwinius Masillae

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Find a kindergartener and ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You are likely to hear answers such as “doctor”, “teacher”, and “police officer.” I was the strange five-year-old that replied, “paleontologist,” and often had to explain to the questioning adult what that word even meant. (For those of you who don’t know, a child-like explanation is a person who digs up dinosaur bones.) For many of my younger years, I put a lot of effort into learning about dinosaurs and trying to become an actual paleontologist. Although I have since set aside this goal, paleontology still sparks a glimmer in my eye.


 3) First Day of Spring 2009 - Design by Eric Carle

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I am very thankful that a love of reading was instilled in me during my impressionable childhood years. I don’t know exactly who to thank, but I’m sure my bookishness can be attributed to my family and first grade teacher. Anyway, one of my favorite books was Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I loved the format, and style of the book. This doodle conjures up fond memories of an easier time. As an aside, I recently bought a finger puppet version of this book as the “perfect” first birthday present for my friend’s son. Terrified doesn’t even begin to describe how he felt about the caterpillar puppet. Needless to say, I don’t think this will be on his list of favorite doodles when he’s older.



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This one might only make the list because it’s fresh on my mind. That being said, there is no denying the impact this doodle had. Users who clicked on this doodle were directed to a petition to tell congress not to censor the web, and over 7 million people signed it. I probably particularly like this censored Google image because I love books such as Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World and 1984 in which the government CONTROLS and CENSORS. And while I enjoy works of fiction dealing with these themes, I have no desire to live in a world of censorship.


1) Alexander Calder's 113th Birthday

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I’m an artsy person (notice I didn’t say artist!) and if forced to choose, I would pick Alexander Calder as my favorite artist. I’ve written a couple of reports on him as a matter of fact. I love whimsical, I love bright colors, and I LOVE 3D design. What makes this doodle really noteworthy is the fact that it was Google’s first doodle made entirely with HTML5, so it was the first doodle that really did something. I happily recall my excitement that day as I made the doodle mobile bob serenely. So, the fact that this commemorates my favorite artist, coupled with the game-changing nature for Google doodles, makes this the number one doodle in my book.

Have you been inspired to create a doodle? While there is already a team of illustrators and engineers (called doodlers!) in place at Google specifically for this purpose, Google accepts submissions for future doodles at Also, they run an annual contest, Doodle 4 Google, with the winning doodle being featured on the homepage. Unfortunately, I certainly stand no chance of winning a Doodle 4 Google contest in the modern era of doodle animation, so instead I’ll continue to enjoy the doodles of others in times of procrastination need.

What are your favorite Google doodles? Did you know you can buy customized items with your favorite Google doodle?

-- Allison Rossi

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