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Pitt's Historic Impact

Beware of Mr. Yuk!


“Mr. Yuk is mean. Mr. Yuk is greeeeen.” Those were the opening lyrics of a 1971 commercial jingle about the scowling green face that warns children not to consume toxic household chemicals.

That year, due to an alarming number of children's deaths by poisoning in the Pittsburgh area, Pitt founded the Pittsburgh Poison Center (PPC) and introduced Mr. Yuk as a substitute for the traditional skull-and-crossbones symbol, which children were no longer associating with danger. (Among other things, the Jolly Roger, was part of the Pittsburgh Pirates' logo decades before that had become somewhat toxic, at least among local sports fans.) But when children see Mr. Yuk's stuck-out tongue and sickly green color, they understand he is disgusted and sick, and poison is pretty nasty stuff.

Mr. Yuk is now famous, and the PPC took a national leadership role among more than 660 poison centers in 1978. Directed by pharmacist Edward Krenzelok, the PPC and Mr. Yuk have educated and protected millions of children regarding the dangers of poisoning. Each year, the poison center distributes millions of Mr. Yuk stickers designed to be put on bottles of household chemicals and to keep kids out of danger.