Hot, Hot, Hot
Cayenne ignites Ragin’ Cajun® spirit
Cayenne ignites Ragin’ Cajun® spirit There’s a new pepper in town. It’s big. Eight feet tall, in fact. Wears size 25 shoes. • And it’s hot, so hot that it’s always on fire. • Cayenne, the Ragin’ Cajun® Pepper, premiered as University of Louisiana’s new spirit leader in January. It arrived at the Cajundome astride a Harley Davidson motorcycle during halftime at the Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns® vs. North Texas basketball game. • “Students wanted something to ignite our school spirit and promote pride on campus. Cayenne does that,” said Princess Willis, president of University of Louisiana’s Student Government Association.
The concept of a spicy spirit leader for all athletic teams was sparked by the Ragin’ Cajuns’ appearance at the NCAA basketball tournament last spring and was fueled by University of Louisiana’s first trip to the NCAA College World Series in June.
“The University received an unbelievable response to its unique nickname — ‘Ragin’ Cajuns’ — and its logos during the baseball team’s excellent performance at the College World Series,” said Julie Simon-Dronet, director of Public Relations and News Services. “The students and the administration thought it was important to build on the responses we were getting. The Ragin’ Cajun image is rapidly creating more national attention for our university and athletic teams.” Students wanted a spirit leader that is unique and playful.
They didn’t have to look any further than the school’s athletic logo, which combines a fleur de lis and the words “Ragin’ Cajuns” in fiery letters. The apostrophe in “Ragin’ ” is a pepper in flames, a droll detail that says volumes about Ragin’ Cajuns’ sense of fun.
So, the students picked the pepper, so to speak, and held a “name the pepper” contest on campus. “Cayenne” was the winner.
“Cayenne represents a unique image the university has continually built upon throughout the years,” said John Mouton, president of the Union Program council. “It reflects our hot and spicy way of life.”
Cayenne, according to Simon-Dronet, is a non-traditional spirit leader for a non-traditional university.
“That pepper on fire has created an ‘out-of-the-box’ look that manufacturers and retailers love to promote. In fact, the pepper on fire mark produced our first line of products to go national. You can buy a Ragin’ Cajun hat at any LIDS store in the nation because of the popularity of the pepper on fire. And that’s only the beginning,” she said.
Cayenne is not a mascot and does not replace any characters who represented the university throughout its 100-year history, including a bulldog.
“Cayenne embodies the Ragin’ Cajun spirit of Acadiana. We needed a spirit leader that kids can hug. We needed a spirit leader that can represent Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns to a national audience,” Simon-Dronet said. She noted that University of Louisiana players and fans who attended the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., were frequently asked, “What’s a Ragin’ Cajun?”
“A Ragin’ Cajun is not a person or an animal,” she said. “It’s a feeling that describes our unique way of life. It describes our hot and spicy food and unique music. Cayenne is the same. “This spirit leader represents everyone and embodies all of what the Ragin’ Cajuns are. . .hot, exciting and on the move.”