Finding Minnesota: The Valley Of The Jolly Green Giant

By Mike Binkley, WCCO-TV

BLUE EARTH, Minn. (WCCO) — There are certain commercial jingles that just stick with you.  That’s why so many people around the world know about the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant.

It’s in southern Minnesota, where farmers near Le Sueur and surrounding communities produce peas so large, they came to be known as “green giants.”

Blue Earth is one of those communities where generations grew up canning Green Giant vegetables. And for more than 30 years, a 60-foot Green Giant statue has drawn thousands of visitors to the edge of town.

Now, a little farther into Blue Earth, you’ll find a lot more giants – on everything from toys, to shoes, to kites.  The Giant Museum features what’s believed to be the world’s largest collection of Green Giant memorabilia. It was all pulled together by one man, Lowell Steen, 67.

“What we have here is an inflatable giant,” said Steen, as he showed off one of his largest items, in one corner of the museum. “He’s about 10-foot-tall and when you plug him in, he inflates and stands very tall and proud.”

Steen worked at Green Giant for about 30 years, until retiring in 2007. He was a mechanic who repaired combines and corn pickers.  His collection started with a few antiques, and then blew up when eBay came along.

“I don’t know, I just started collecting and it just mushroomed,” he said.  “Actually I believe the postman was probably at my door with a package once or twice a week.”

Steen said he had his wife’s support as he built his collection.  She also supported his decision to get it out of their basement.

“We have literally over a thousand items,” he said.

His collecting days may be nearly over. It appears he’s found just about every item the company released.

The items are all in an old firehouse now, run by the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Sammi Olinger says:

    The real Valley of the Jolly Green Giant is in Le Sueur MN. It started out as the Mn Valley Canning Company and later changed it’s name to Green Giant. Please check out the real Valley.

    1. Roxann hughes says:

      you are so right let the credit go to the real area

  2. Frank says:

    I think Pillsbury bought them out and raided their pension fund and sold the rest to Seneca a few years back. Can anyone respond?

    1. Dough Boy says:

      It’s all part of doing bussiness, they did not raid pension funds if your money was invested better you would have made money like the rest of us just as we did when it was sold to Diageo and then sold back for marketing reasons.

  3. Phyllis Normand says:

    Sammi Olinger is correct. The very large “Jolly Green Giant” stands on top of the hill on the east side of Highway #169 as you approach the town of Le Sueur from the north.

  4. Kate says:

    Ummm … Sammi & Phyllis, did you miss this statement in the article: It’s in southern Minnesota, where farmers near Le Sueur and surrounding communities produce peas so large, they came to be known as “green giants.” It mentions Blue Earth as one location in Southern MN where Green Giant had a cannery, where the subject of the article worked.

    The story itself wasn’t about the history of the Green Giant company or the real location of the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant – it was about one man’s collection of Green Giant memorabilia.

    1. rox hughes says:

      well excuse them / guess we are all rt

  5. George says:

    The Green Giant in LeSueur is merely a billboard commemorating the idea along Highway 169. If you’re looking for the statue, head on down to Blue Earth, where the museum in this story ALSO is.

  6. Vikki says:

    Thhis is a very misleading story. The true home of the Green Giant is Le Sueur, MN. This is where the company started. Yes, Blue Earth has erected a statue of the Jolly Green Giant, but is started in Le Sueur. This story is about a man who has a collection of memorabilia dedicated to the Green Giant Company, and he happens to live in Blue Earth. The reporter mislead the public by making us believe that Green Giant was started in Blue Earth. He should have stated that it was started in Le Sueur. There are still vegetables with the label of Le Sueur on them. Hmmm……..are those made by the Green Giant Company?

  7. Green Giant says:

    The story does NOT say the valley is in Blue Earth it says it’s “in southern Minnesota, where farmers near Le Sueur and surrounding communities produce peas so large, they came to be known as “green giants. Blue Earth is one of those communities where generations grew up canning Green Giant vegetables.” If you want people to check out the real valley in Le Sueur as you say then you should do somthing that makes people want to come there like Mr. Steen did for the city of Blue Earth.

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