He was a man of few words, and those he had were clearly plagiarized from Santa Claus. He was green, he was a giant, and had it not been for an extreme makeover, he might never have found his way into our collective hearts. Hawking his wares of freshly canned vegetables, he is none other than the Jolly Green Giant. Let’s take a look back at this memorable mascot.
Originally referred to as Green Giant, he first came on to the scene in 1928, as a new mascot for the Minnesota Valley Canning Company. Unfortunately, he shared an affliction common among giants – he was a bit scary looking to the youngsters. Perhaps the victim of childhood teasing, he possessed a notable scowl and almost ghoulish appearance – problematic, to say the least, to be a product pitchman perceived as a monster by the masses.
It would take an ad agency man by the name of Leo Burnett to change things around. They gave him a new look, new surroundings, and made him appear much friendlier. The scowl was replaced with a smile, he did the fashionable name-change thing, now preferring to go by “Jolly Green Giant” and he was given more stylish clothing, including some flashy leaf-covered boots.
The biggest hurdle was how to present the Jolly Green Giant, smiling or not. Puppets were tried, animation was attempted and a lot of big muscular guys were painted green. They even resorted to showing only his feet. No matter what they tried, he still came off looking more like Frankenstein than a friendly giant. Finally, a writer at the ad agency named Bob Noel came up with (borrowed) the jolliest of exclamations, “Ho, Ho, Ho” and that did the trick. Len Dresslar provided the baratone voice and transformed the mascot from ogre to best buddy in three mere words.
With a new sense of self-worth and confidence, the Jolly Green Giant would happily Ho-Ho-Ho at the drop of a hat, proving once and for all that there was no reason to be frightened of a happy guy like him. In the 60s, he received an apprentice, the diminutive (relatively-speaking) Little Green Sprout and mentored him in the ways of garden protection much like a proud father.
In the grandest of honors, the little town in Minnesota that sprouted the Jolly Green Giant erected a 55-foot statue of their hero in appreciation for all he has done for them. For decades, the Jolly Green Giant has stood guard of the fertile valley and endless crops of vegetables within, offering protection to these tasty morsels until they could find their way to a cannery, and then to your dinner table. His presence is undeniable and his outlook on life, infectious. You just want to Ho Ho Ho right along with him.
If you grew up serenaded by the melodic booming voice of this gentle giant, we welcome your memories in our comments section. Sorry we misjudged you, big guy.