Metropolis, Illinois Big John.
Metropolis, Illinois Big John.

Big John, Uber-Grocery Clerk

Big Johns are well-meaning hulks, hoisting car-sized bags filled with groceries in the parking lots of their Big John food stores. Often mistaken for classic Muffler Men, the Big Johns peacefully coexist with their roadside brethren.

Big Johns are 28 to 30 feet tall fiberglass statues, usually clad in checkered shirts, blue jeans, an apron and comical bulbous black shoes. His beefy arms can hold four stuffed-near-to-bursting bags of groceries.

Charles Lincoln wrote us that his dad carved the molds while working at General Sign Co. (in business 1939-2010), in or around Cape Girardeau, MO during the summer of 1967. The figures and grocery bags could be customized for different businesses. "In the mid '70s, Giant Food Stores co-opted them for a time, with the larger full torso apron (painted orange)."

When a Big John store goes out of business, someone re-purposes the big guy.

That's what happened to the BJ in Cape Coral, Florida, which lords over a strip mall. He's been there since 1969. Big John's grocery bags are missing, but he's otherwise up to spec. He survived a close encounter with Hurricane Charlie in 2004, and is reportedly anchored to withstand 110 mph winds.

West City, Illinois Big John. When his store closed, he moved to West Virginia.
West City, Illinois Big John. When his store closed, he moved to West Virginia.

A roving Big John has been reported in Lake View, Mississippi, pressed into seasonal firewooks service like a portable M-Man.

Big Johns are rare; only about eight are known to be in publicly accessible places. Due to their scarcity, Big Johns are sought after by collectors of Muffler Men. Glenn Goode's welcoming line of Big People include two Big Johns (they're not holding grocery bags, but Glenn had those stowed on his property until 2015). In Unger, West Virginia, George Farnham bought an unemployed Big John from a store closed in Benton, Illinois, and added it to his own back yard line-up of giants.

Other Big Johns of note:

  • Carmi, Illinois -known as "Little Giant," changed hands and locations around Carmi for years, but eventually settled into his new role in front of a deli called Little Giant.
  • Eldorado, Illinois - still stands at a Big John Super Foods Store.
  • Gainesville, Texas - A rare display of two Big John's is part of Glenn Goode's Big People. Glenn passed away in 2015, but for now the statues seem to be staying put next to a Muffler Man and a Uniroyal Gal.
  • Metropolis, Illinois - Well-kept specimen at the local Big John store, but he's often overlooked because the Man of Steel stands just down the road.
  • West City, Illinois - The store (earlier reported as in Benton) closed in 2005, later the figure was sold and moved to Unger, West Virginia to join the Farnham Colossi.

Also see: Muffer Men | M-Man Tracking Chart

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Big John Statue

Address:
1400 SE 47th Terrace, Cape Coral, FL
Directions:
I-75 exit 131. West on Daniels Pky 4.5 miles. North on Cleveland Ave. one-half mile, then west on College Pky. After about four miles go over the bridge, then north at the light onto Del Prado Blvd, then an immediate left onto SE 47th Terrace. The shopping center will be on the left.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Big John - Grocery Clerk

Little Giant Deli

Address:
1347 State Hwy 1, Carmi, IL
Directions:
Little Giant Deli. Hwy 1 at the south edge of town.
Phone:
618-382-3928
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Big John - Grocery Clerk

Big John Super Foods Store

Address:
1105 US Hwy 45 N., Eldorado, IL
Directions:
Big John Super Foods Store. Southeast corner of US Hwy 45 N. and Hwy 142 S.
Phone:
618-273-9811
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Big John - Grocery Clerk

Big John Super Foods Store

Address:
1200 E. 5th St., Metropolis, IL
Directions:
Big John Super Foods Store. East edge of town, on the south side of E. 5th St./US Hwy 45.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

State Line Big John

Address:
US Hwy 61, Lake View, MS
Directions:
On the west side of US Hwy 61, right on the Tennessee-Mississippi state line.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Glenn Goode's Big People

Address:
1651 FM 371, Gainesville, TX
Directions:
From I-35 turn on hwy 82 east, go 4 miles to FM 371 turn left(north) and go less than 2 miles. They are on west side of road waving at you.
Hours:
Daylight Hours. (Call to verify)
Phone:
940-665-8200
RA Rates:
Major Fun
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RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

The Farnham Colossi

Farnham Fantasy Farm

Address:
14633 Winchester Grade Rd, Unger, WV
Directions:
From Berkeley Springs, go S. on 522 for 2 miles to Winchester Grade Rd. Rt. 13 -- take it 14 miles to the Unger Store and turn left, go 1 1/2 miles. Muffler Man is on the left.
Phone:
304-496-4164
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

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