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An ad from 1951. Jamie via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

11 Hulking Facts About Green Giant

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An ad from 1951. Jamie via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Although most well known for its peas and corn, the Green Giant brand sells a variety of fresh, frozen, canned, bagged, and boxed vegetables (as well as hummus). Founded in 1903 as the Minnesota Valley Canning Company, the company changed its name in 1950 to Green Giant, though its recognizable mascot had been around much longer. Read on for 11 things you might not know about the veggie company.

1. THE COMPANY WAS AT THE FOREFRONT OF INDUSTRIAL CANNING.

In 1903, 14 merchants in Le Sueur, Minnesota joined forces to create the Minnesota Valley Canning Company. They started an industrial cannery, producing and selling 11,750 cases of white corn in their first year of business. In 1907, they started producing cans of Early June peas, and they continued to focus only on corn and peas until 1939 when they began also selling canned asparagus.

2. GREEN GIANT PEAS WERE NAMED AFTER A BIG PEA FROM ENGLAND.

Until 1925, the Minnesota Valley Canning Company only sold Early June peas, a variety of small, sweet peas. When a company executive found a large pea in England that was tender and tasted sweet, he brought it back to Minnesota. At the time, the company couldn’t legally trademark the name Green Giant to describe the peas, so they created a mascot named Green Giant and sold the new type of peas under that name.

3. THE ORIGINAL GREEN GIANT MASCOT WAS NEITHER JOLLY NOR GREEN…

COURTESY GREEN GIANT

The original Green Giant mascot was a white (not green) man holding a giant pea pod in his arms. Starting in 1928, he appeared in ads for the peas. The Green Giant’s original incarnation was reportedly influenced by illustrations from Grimms' Fairy Tales, a collection of German fairy tales from the early 1800s.

4. …BUT HE BECAME THE GENTLE GIANT WE KNOW TODAY THANKS TO THE CREATOR OF TONY THE TIGER AND THE PILLSBURY DOUGHBOY.

An ad from 1953. Jamie via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The advertising company Leo Burnett, which created other well-known food mascots such as Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and Toucan Sam, softened the Green Giant’s appearance in 1935. The revised giant had a smile to match his new name, the Jolly Green Giant, and he wore a toga of green leaves. He also got a backstory—he watched over the Jolly Green Giant Valley, protecting the crops.

5. GREEN GIANT HAS CLOSE TIES WITH LE SUEUR VEGETABLES.

Green Giant and Le Sueur are different brands under the same company. Because the Minnesota Valley Canning Company was founded in Le Sueur, Minnesota, the company named its canned vegetables Le Sueur Z. They dropped the Z in 1933, but Le Sueur still sells cans of peas, asparagus, and carrots today.

6. LITTLE GREEN SPROUT HAS BEEN LEARNING FROM THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT SINCE THE EARLY 1970s.

Green Giant introduced another company mascot called Little Green Sprout in 1973. Aimed at children, the young green boy with leaves for hair joined the Jolly Green Giant in the valley, learning about veggies and keeping him company. Little Green Sprout’s youth is reinforced with his high-pitched voice, a stark contrast to the Jolly Green Giant’s booming "ho, ho, ho" tagline.

7. YOU CAN VISIT A TOWERING 55-FOOT STATUE OF THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT.

Tourists to Blue Earth, Minnesota will probably marvel at the sight of a 55-foot statue of the Jolly Green Giant. Paul Hedberg, a radio station owner, wanted to encourage visitors who were traveling on Interstate 90 to stop in Blue Earth, so he contacted Green Giant to ask if a statue could be erected. Green Giant gave the okay, and Hedberg raised money from local businesses. The fiberglass statue, which has been towering over the town since 1979, even gets a giant red scarf placed around his neck each winter.

8. GREEN GIANT HAS INNOVATED VEGETABLE MANUFACTURING METHODS.

Green Giant has a history of being on the cutting edge of research and development. In 1929, the company invented Green Giant Niblets by canning vacuum-packed sweet corn in a new way. In 1933, the company used gravity separators—machines that measured and separated peas during the manufacturing process. And in 1969, Green Giant was the first company to sell frozen corn on the cob and mushrooms in glass jars.

9. GREEN GIANT FREEZES THEIR VEGETABLES AFTER HARVESTING TO PRESERVE NUTRIENTS.

Studies have shown that freezing vegetables at their peak ripeness can preserve the nutrients, so you can get just as much benefit from eating frozen veggies as eating fresh ones. Green Giant’s sweet corn, for example, is frozen and packaged within 24 hours of being harvested, and then shipped to a grocery store near you.

10. GREEN GIANT SUPPORTS BULLY PREVENTION.

Green Giant has partnered with Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center to help kids who are bullied. With the "Nominate A Giant" program, Green Giant encourages people in the community to nominate kids and adults who stand up against bullies. "From being friendly in the halls to inviting others to sit with you at lunch, your nice gesture is what makes you a Giant," the company writes, and they reported that more than 12,000 people nominated "giants" on their social media pages.

11. THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT HAS BECOME A POP CULTURE ICON.

People love the Green Giant’s combination of brawn and gentleness. In Blue Earth, Minnesota, people can visit the Green Giant Museum and get a kick out of seeing the giant green footsteps that are painted on the sidewalks each summer for the town’s Giant Days festival and parade. For those not in Minnesota, Green Giant vintage merchandise such as dolls, kites, shirts, hats, coffee cups, and posters are available for sale online.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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Design
The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Tengi

Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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