"In the Valley of the Jolly...
HO, HO, HO!
I heard that jingle so often growing up that intoning the "Ho, Ho, Ho" part is an automatic reflex if someone sings the first line. But being a non shopper whose affection for veggies is only moderate I go a long time between occasions when I think about Mr. J.G. Giant.
But while on a recent road trip we pulled over in Blue Earth Minnesota for a stretch and some ice cream.....and there he was:
Of course you just have to pose in front of him. I did notice that he was a bit under dressed for the raw, biting wind that was swirling around him. In fact, I noticed that he was just plain under dressed, period. You try to help a brother out....
To the continued annoyance of my long suffering better half, I always want to know about the origins of things. In the case of the Jolly Green Giant that is not as easy as you might imagine. He has been sold off several times since his creation back in 1925, as smaller companies get gobbled up by corporate raiders with considerably more enthusiasm than toddlers eating peas and carrots. All that I could learn was that he originally did not have green skin and was simply called "The Green Giant". I also found vague reference to him being based on "folklore and mythology".
Well. I am going to go out on a limb here and offer some speculation. I seriously doubt that JGG was based on Jack and the Beanstalk. No, it would hardly do to have your spokesbeing shilling for eating meat, and at that for the blood of an Englishman. A rather more plausible case can be made for him being a modern reinvention of "The Green Man".
Green Man is an odd holdover of pagan imagery that got a marginal pass from the Medieval Church. He appears in various guises, usually with foliage sprouting out from him (see leafy hair, above) and as a patron of fertility generally and of the annual renewal of agriculture specifically. His image turns up in a lot of churches across Europe:
I have been thus far unable to pin down exactly when our corporate friend added the word "Jolly" to his name. But I rather suspect is was sometime after the debut of the Marvel character "Incredible Hulk" in 1962. I was a kid in that era and can just imagine the routines along the lines of "Brussels Sprouts make Hulk ANGRY!!!".
A few parting thoughts as we finish our virtual visit to the Jolly Green Giant in his lonely bachelor pad.
Dude, how's that whole fertility symbol thing working out for you?
The Giant has endured a long reign as a corporate symbol because he is inherently likable. So I think well of him and worry just a bit about his welfare. My hero may not have feet of clay, but....
Get those cracks in the fiberglass attended to J, the wind off the prairies is fierce and I don't want to be reading about you in the paper.