Jolly Green Giant – The trademark of the Green Giant Company which provides canned and frozen vegetables to the tables of the world.
Inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales, the Green Giant was designed to commemorate the introduction of a new kind of pea by the Minnesota Valley Canning Company of Le Sueur in 1925.
Originally, a grumpy, grey gnome in a scruffy bearskin, the company turned their mascot green in the 1930s to symbolize its green vegetable products. Dressed in a leafy-green toga, the Giant’s vocabulary is limited to “Ho, Ho, Ho, Green Giant!”
“Good things from the garden, Garden in the Valley,
Valley of the Giant Ho! Ho! Ho! Green Giant”
In 1973, the Green Giant got a little assistant called “Little Green Sprout” to help him tend the vegetables in his valley. A few years later in 1979, the citizens of Blue Earth, Minnesota paid homage to the Jolly Green Giant and dedicated a 55-foot statue in his honor.
In the year 2000, after 75 years, the Chicago-based Leo Burnett Ad Agency who had reinvented the JGG icon in 1935, lost the JGG account to the Saatchi & Saatchi agency headquartered in London. Leo Burnett created the Jolly Green Giant, Charlie Tuna for StarKist, Morris the Cat for 9-Lives, and the Keebler Elves.
Advertising Age magazine has ranked the JGG as the third most recognizable advertising character of the century’s top 10 ad icons behind only Ronald McDonald and the Marlboro Man.
Statue of the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota
TRIVIA NOTE: Born in St. Francis, Kansas, baritone singer Elmer “Len” Dresslar, Jr. provided the first “Ho! Ho! Ho!” voice of the Jolly Green Giant in 1959. Len retired to Palm Springs, Calif., with his wife in 1991, and died of cancer on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005 in the Desert Hospital Hospice at the age of 80.
Reportedly, Len’s “Ho! Ho! Ho!” residuals put his two daughters through college. Len earned several hundred thousand dollars over the last forty years, The Green Giant people retired Len’s voice in 1991, but brought it back in 1999 during a national campaign on the 75th anniversary of the company.
During his stint as the voice of the Jolly Green Giant, Len Dresslar never had to dress up in the Jolly Green Giant costume, However, he confessed to Scott Simon in a 09/04/1999 “Weekend Edition” phone interview on National Public Radio that “when we first went on the air, I felt sorry for the man that was doing it because they had him all lacquered up and painted green and this poor soul was standing over this little miniature valley, just standing there, not doing anything.
Len’s other voice-over work included the elfin character Snap from Snap-Crackle-Pop Rice Krispies, Dig-’em, the frog in Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks commercials, the voice in the Dinty Moore beef stew commercials, and the voice of the Marlboro Man. He also sang “When you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of beer.”
Keith Wegeman, an Olympic long-jump skier portrayed the Jolly Green Giant in a series of live action spots produced in the 1960s. His daughter is Katherine Kelly Lang who stars on the CBS daytime soap opera THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL as Brooke Logan Forrester, a beautiful, strong-willed young chemist from California’s San Fernando Valley.
And, did you know that The USAF Sikorsky HH-3E helicopters were used extensively in Vietnam for combat and rescue missions. They earned the nickname “The Jolly Green Giant.”
Lyrics from the song JOLLY GREEN GIANT by The Kingsmen (1964)
In duh valley of duh jolly (ho-ho-ho) Wow!
Heard about the Jolly Green Giant (potatoes).
He’s so big and mean (artichoke hearts)
He stands there laughing with his hands on his hips
And then he hits you with a can of beans
He lives down here in his valley (Brussels sprouts).
The cat stands tall and green (spinach)
Well, he ain’t no prize, and there’s no women his size,
And that’s why the cat’s so mean
One day he left his valley pad.
I mean to say, this cat was mad
Now listen ’round, he wasn’t gone long and then he ran into an Amazon
Well, this changed his whole complexion (broccoli).
He had never seen such a beautiful sight (corn)
Well, he looked at her and she looked at him
And she almost passed out from fright
He looked at her, thought, “what a dilly!”
He touched her once; she slapped him silly
This was something he had never sensed.
He looked at her as she commenced
Now listen, pal, this ain’t no fluke.
“I can’t see goin’ with a big green kook”
You’ve heard about the Jolly Green Giant (eggplant).
Don’t let his troubles cross your mind (celery stalks)
He couldn’t get Sally, so went back to his valley,
The cat was color-blind. (carrots) (and peas)
The Jolly Green Giant song is based on the Olympics’ “Big Boy Pete”, by Don Harris and Dewey Terry; parody lyrics by Lynn Easton