Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Kingsmen – "Jolly Green Giant" (1964)

He touched her once 
She slapped him silly

Hopefully the Jolly Green Giant learned his lesson and never, ever misbehaved again – unlike Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C. K., etc., etc.

*     *     *     *     *

The lyrics to “Jolly Green Giant” include references to a number of vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and artichoke hearts.

None of which my mother ever served at our family dinners when I was a kid.  

*     *     *     *     *

Our first course was usually a tossed salad with French dressing, cottage cheese with tomatoes, or canned pear halves covered with grated American cheese.  (I was not a fan of canned pear halves.)

Our main course consisted of a meat, a starch, and a vegetable.

The meat might be pan-fried chicken, meatloaf, or Salisbury steak – basically a glorified hamburger served without the bun or the American cheese or ketchup.

“Please pass the Salisbury steak!”
Every so often, my mother made creamed chipped beef, which was godawful.  We never had pork or lamb.

The starch was usually mashed potatoes – made from scratch.  On occasion we had potatoes in a different form – au gratin, or baked – or macaroni and cheese.  I don’t recall having rice or spaghetti.

The vegetable was often corn or green beans or peas or carrots – always canned, never frozen.  (I think frozen vegetables were a little pricey for my parents.)

Every so often we had canned diced beets.  GAG ME WITH A SPOON!  (I haven’t knowingly eaten a single bite of beets since leaving home for college.)

My father worked for a dairy, so I always drank milk with dinner.  (Also with breakfast and lunch.)    

Dessert was usually a dish of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup served just before bedtime.  (I remember using my spoon to squish the ice cream and chocolate into something approximating a very thick chocolate milk shake.)

*     *     *     *     *

As for breakfast, my mother usually made waffles on Sundays, using an enormous plug-in waffle iron.  

At some point in my childhood, Malt-O-Meal was my regular before-school breakfast.  I also ate my share of cold cereal – corn flakes, Cheerios, Rice Chex.

I don’t recall having eggs and bacon very often.  When my mother did make bacon, she cooked it super well done and crispy – I hated it that way.

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was a kid – they lived only three blocks away, so I walked back and forth on an almost daily basis.  My grandmother made a truly bizarre breakfast called “syrup ’n’ bread,” which must have been invented during the Depression.  It consisted of two slices of white bread, each of which was cut up into nine little squares.  You then put a smear of margarine on each square and doused it with white Karo syrup.  

I always saved the middle square – the one with no crust – for last.

*     *     *     *     *

During the school year, of course, I got my lunch at school.  (I went to public schools, and had very few – if any – Catholic classmates, but we were always served fish sticks for lunch on Friday.) 

On weekends and during the summer, my lunch was often a bologna sandwich with a slice of American cheese on white bread.

We got unsliced five-pound loaves of American cheese from the dairy where my father worked.  I remember using a cheese slicer that had a roller and a thin, very taut wire to slice the cheese.  Later, the cheese came pre-sliced, but the slices weren’t individually wrapped.

Our cheese slicer was just like this one
The only thing I liked on my sandwiches were hamburger dill pickle slices – no mayo or mustard for me, thank you very much.  (My high school cafeteria put a ton of mustard on its bologna sandwiches – I scraped off as much as I could before eating it, but I could never get rid of all of it.)

My mother made great tuna salad sandwiches.  She would dice pickle slices and hard-boiled eggs and mix them with the tuna.  

Campbell’s chicken-noodle soup was also a staple.  Later I got into tomato soup.

*     *     *     *     *

The only Kingsmen record that most people remember is “Louie Louie.”

But “Jolly Green Giant” was almost as big a hit.  It made it all the way to #4 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1964.

The Minnesota Valley Canning Company started selling “Green Giant Great Big Tender Peas” in 1925, and introduced its Green Giant mascot a few years later.  

The “Jolly Green Giant” over the years
Originally, he was a scary, Incredible Hulk-like character who wore in a bearskin, but the company’s ad agency transformed him into a smiling and nonthreatening figure clad in leaves and added “Jolly” to his name.

In 1978, the citizens of Blue Earth, Minnesota installed a 55-foot statue of the Jolly Green Giant in their town.  (The original Green Giant canning plant was located about 70 miles north, in Le Sueur.)

When Advertising Age ranked the top ten advertising icons of the 20th century, the Jolly Green Giant was given the #3 spot – behind only the Marlboro Man and Ronald McDonald (and ahead of the Energizer Bunny, Aunt Jemima, Tony the Tiger, and the Michelin Man, among others).

Here’s “Jolly Green Giant”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:  

No comments:

Post a Comment