Barney Google first appeared in a newspaper cartoon in 1917 as the main character of a comic called "Take Barney Google, F'rinstance." Originally, creator Billy DeBeck intended Barney Google as a series about sports. The title character enjoyed horse races, boxing, and similar activities, and he suffered much nagging from his wife for his passions. Until DeBeck introduced Barney's companion Spark Plug, the comic enjoyed only modest success. In a 1922 strip, Barney received a gift of a horse named Spark Plug when he broke the fall of a victim of a barroom brawl. The horse's first race became comics' first national media event. Spark Plug became such a star that DeBeck, planning on retiring the horse after his run, made the equine a permanent character. The comic strip, which continued in newspapers until 2001, inspired Philadelphia toy maker A. Schoenhut to produce toy figures of the popular comic strip character. Barney Google and Spark Plug appeared in 1918 and 1922 respectively.