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Monday, June 13, 2016

The Joly Green Giant of Blue Earth, Minnesota

I feel like you are all probably wondering why I am blogging about crazy random things like corn palaces and jolly green giant statues. Well the truth is, that these are the main attractions along the highway. If you too find yourself traveling through Interstate 90 through our beautiful country, these are easy photo ops and a chance to stretch your legs. I mean, theses places are included in the lists of America's unusual or notable roadside attractions.  You stop to pose with a Jolly Green Giant and your cat when you get the chance. And you have to stop in any town with the name "Blue Earth". 

As I mentioned in last weeks post about the Corn Palace, I did not have any stops planned for this day and I was intrigued to find out about these grand American attractions right off the highway. The corn palace was the real deal, with food, bathrooms, and a store. But the Green Giant was a little more low key (unless you consider the dairy queen next door.....). 

Why:  The statue was the idea of Paul Hedberg, the founding owner of the local radio station KBEW. During weekdays in the summertime Hedberg would interview people passing through Blue Earth on U.S. Highway 169 for his popular radio program "Welcome Travellers." At the end of each interview, Hedberg presented guests with a sample of the peas and corn which had been produced by the town's Green Giant canning plant, along with a sample of what passed for the blue riverbed clay that gave the town its name. A common theme arising in these interviews was a desire to "see the Green Giant."

History:  Founded in 1903 as the Minnesota Valley Canning Company, Green Giant became one of the largest producers of canned corn and peas in the United States. "The giant did not initially become associated with the company at large, nor was he green-colored or jolly. The first giant produced on cans of peas looked angry and threatening. In 1928, the company changed the skin color of the giant from white to green. They also added foliage to his outfit. In 1935, ad executive Leo Burnett decided to rename him the Jolly Green Giant, and he eventually became associated with all of the MVCC's products. In 1950, the MVCC changed its name to the Green Giant Company (GGC). In 1961, the Jolly Green Giant first appeared on television, and his companion, Little Sprout, first made an appearance in 1973." - Source

About the statue:
 The statue was made off site and on July 6, 1979, the 55.5' tall Jolly Green Giant was bolted to his eight-foot-high base.  There is even a staircase so that visitors could pose for snapshots between his legs.   He weighs 8,000 pounds, is made of fiberglass, and wars a size 78 shoe. And best of all, it cost $43,000 to manufacture. 

And if you visit the Jolly Green Giant, and need more, there is a Giant Museum (not at this location but in the town).  Retro commercial ads, the world's largest collection of Green Giant memorabilia and toys, and an education tour about the canning process of peas and corn.  

Directions: I-90 exit 119. Turn south onto US 169. Drive a half-mile, turn right onto CR-104/Fairgrounds.  Look for the park and the Dairy Queen. 

1 comment :

  1. This ridiculous, yet funny! When you got your photo taken underneath the statue, did you keep saying "Ho-ho-ho. Green Giant?" I know I would have! Probably would have spent a few minutes checking out the Green Giant Museum, as well, for a bit of a break from all that driving.


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