Is It Good to be Green?

The most fearsome of all commercial mascots is tall and green. Yet he was the original green (now signifying  “all natural”) trademark. Nonetheless, as a child I was terrorized by his monumental countenance. Every time I ate a pea, it shivered my timbers. His Jolly-ness was a ruse. The Valley of the Jolly was run by an iron fisted strongman (echo of “Jack and the Beanstalk’s” wicked giant).

The Jolly Green Giant was created by the Leo Burnett agency as the mascot of the Green Giant food company in Le Sueur, Minnesota. The green dude first appeared in advertisements in 1928; the name originally came from a variety of large pea called the “Green Giant.”

The first black and white TV commercial that aired in 1953, featured a Green Giant puppet menacingly marching through the Valley of the Jolly.

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.

One of the more lasting and successful commercial mascots, the J. G. Giant still gives me the creeps. “Ho Ho Ho, Green Giant!”

9 thoughts on “Is It Good to be Green?

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  3. Crystal

    Green Giant also offered promotional items as part of their marketing to families. My childhood toy was a green giant cloth doll, I affectionalty named, “Greeny,”  of course.

  4. Karen

    Hmmm, what a difference. When I was a kid, I always thought of him a a nice giant. Not intimidating at all and friendly, like someone I’d like to play with. I loved imitating the broad stance with hands on hips and belting out “Ho, ho, ho, green giant.”

  5. Jamie

    Agreed – he was a scary man to me as a child, still is! I realize it is a long-running mascot and “logo” similar to General Electric, but if you are trying to entice your children to eat their veggies, this would work if you threatened them with the Jolly Green Giant, who is not so jolly to me. Perhaps it is time for a re-design.

  6. Eric Hanson

    I passed today’s Daily Heller along to my 83 year-old father, who spent many years providing the frozen food packaging for Green Giant. He knew the guy at Leo Burnett who did the original concept, and met with him often when they both had offices on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

    My one blue collar experience was at a Green Giant plant here in Minnesota. We made cans. There were three or four of us college kids every summer, mostly sons of the vendor reps. They called us all “College.” No names. “Hey, College!” I was considered odd because I spent my smoke breaks reading.

  7. Brian Deep

    I wish the green giant would get with the times and lose the mini skirt. The only guys who wear short shorts on the jogging trail these days are old guys who’s frugal nature won’t allow them to replace of the pair they bought in 1972. 

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