The Green Giant was born in 1925 as the trademark for a new variety of peas by the Minnesota Valley Canning Company. The original illustration of a giant wrapped in fur, created to satisfy trademark requirements, was redesigned 10 years later into the character we still recognize today, a smiling green giant clothed in leaves.
A novelty record by the Kingsmen, “The Jolly Green Giant” soared to number four on the pop charts in 1965. Little Sprout was added in the early 1970s, and the company has merchandised both characters.
The Jolly Green Giant is the mascot of the Green Giant food company. Created by Leo Burnett, the Giant first appeared in advertisements in 1928; the name originally came from a variety of unusually large pea called the "Green Giant" that the company canned and sold.
The original TV commercial, first aired in 1953, features a small green puppet as the (Jolly) Green Giant (though the commercial itself was in black-and-white) stalking through what appears to be the Valley, through the use of stop-motion animation. He stops outside a small farm and holding out his hands, in which two Green Giant canned products are seen spinning into view: in his left hand, a can of his famous Niblets, and in his right, a can of peas. He then holds them out as the camera slowly backs out.
A variation of this commercial features a scene that takes place in a family setting. In this, the mother character in the commercial implies that if one eats Green Giant products, one will become a Green Giant. The young boys featuring in the advert, however, are not scared by this, but seem rather excited. We can see this as they continue to devour their great Giant sweetcorn somewhat more quickly.
The commercial was deemed too scary for younger viewers and was quickly pulled off the air. It also featured a somewhat scary jingle, sung by a group of singers with tenors providing "Fo fum fi fe" as the backing rhythm. Here are the lyrics:
"(Fo, fum, fo, fum)
Ho, hum, hi, he's
The Jolly Green Giant you see on the label
With golden corn and tender peas
The Jolly Green Giant will set up your table
With golden corn and tender peas
The Jolly Green Giant, 'tis he
The Jolly Green Giant, 'tis he"
It was found that when the Green Giant walked, he looked more menacing and scary. As a result, the second commercial, aired in 1960 for Green Giant brand "kitchen-sliced" green beans, featured athlete Keith R. Wegeman standing over the valley, while Keebler-like elves work tirelessly to produce green beans on an assembly line. Elmer Dresslar, Jr., born 1925, provided the voice of the Jolly Green giant in this commercial, saying only "Ho, ho, ho". Dresslar never portrayed the Giant in TV commercials. The first song heard in the commercial is:
"From the valley of the Jolly ('ho, ho, ho') Green Giant!
Good things from the garden
Garden in the valley
Valley of the Jolly Green Giant!
Some are green-snappin' fresh
Kitchen-sliced to taste the best
Tender beans are comin' from the valley! (From the valley!)"
After the narrator explained the product (noting that "You can get the Green Giant's French-style beans, too!"), this was the song heard:
"Good things from the garden
Garden in the valley
Valley of the Jolly ('ho, ho, ho') Green Giant!"
In 1973, the Jolly Green Giant teamed up with "Little Green Sprout", the diminutive young green giant. Several 1970s commercials used "From the valley of the Jolly (ho, ho, ho) Green Giant!" as the jingle at the end. Starting in the 1980s, the "Ho ho ho, Green Giant!" part has been used.
The Jolly Green Giant starred in a 2005 Mastercard commercial Icons along with 9 other mascots from other companies (including General Mills own Pillsbury Doughboy and Count Chocula) having dinner.
Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth, Minnesota."The Valley of the Jolly Green Giant" refers to the Minnesota River valley around Le Sueur. Today, just before dropping down into the valley heading south on U.S. Route 169 an enormous wooden sign of the Jolly Green Giant, along with Sprout, is visible with the caption "Welcome to the valley". Since the sign pokes up through trees, it has become a source of minor controversy as it frightens motorists frequently.
60 miles further south on Route 169, in the City of Blue Earth, Minnesota, a statue of the Jolly Green Giant is also open to public view. In 1978, the town of Blue Earth, Minnesota paid $43,000 to erect a 55 feet (17 m) fiberglass statue of the Jolly Green Giant to commemorate the linking of the east and west sections of Interstate 90. It was permanently erected on July 6, 1979, at 43°39'02?N 94°5'46?W? / ?43.65056°N 94.09611°W? / 43.65056; -94.09611? (Jolly Green Giant statue (Blue Earth, Minnesota)). The statue attracts over 10,000 visitors a year.
The 55 foot statue of the Green Giant in Blue Earth was the idea of Paul Hedberg who owned local radio station KBEW. During the summer Hedberg interviewed travelers going through Blue Earth on U.S. Highway 16 for his popular radio program called "Welcome Travelers". At the end of each traveler interview Hedberg presented guests a sample of Green Giant corn and peas which had been canned in the local Blue Earth Green Giant plant. A common theme arising in interviews was a desire to "see the Green Giant."
In 1977 Hedberg contacted Thomas H. Wyman, President of Green Giant, to see if the company would allow a statue of their corporate symbol to be erected along the new Interstate 90 in Blue Earth. Wyman granted permission under the condition that funds for the project were raised locally. Hedberg approached ten local businessmen with the idea and asked for $5,000 each; within a week the $50,000 had been donated.
It is mounted on a pedestal and has steps so visitors may take a picture standing directly under the Green Giant. Blue Earth is at the end of the Minnesota River Valley and still has a canning plant formerly owned by Green Giant that continues to can corn and peas each summer. The Blue Earth Green Giant statue was erected in 1978 to coincide with the opening of Interstate 90 across Southern Minnesota. At Blue Earth, East met West completing construction of the longest 4 lane road in the United States, September 23, 1978.