Skip to Main Content

Little Man with the Hammer.

Little Man with the Hammer (Gone)

Field review by the editors.

Burlingame, California

Eliminating household vermin is a nasty business, and generations of professional roach-rat-insect eradicators have lightened up their public image with nutty cartoons mascots as their company logos. Western Exterminator Company, with locations throughout California, did it 90 years ago, and continues to deploy, to every pest inspection, a big-nosed guy with a hammer. To Californians he's known as "Little Man" (elsewhere he may be recalled as a 1980s tour icon for Van Halen)

The mallet-brandishing guy in a top hat (admonishing a tiny rat -- "Menace Mouse" -- holding a knife and fork) was created in 1931 as line art for a yellow pages ad. Originally called "Kernel Kleenup," Western's attempt to rename him with a TV contest in 1964 yielded the winning "Inspector Holmes." Both of these names are pretty much forgotten; Western Exterminator staff continue to regard him as "Little Man" (a runt version of which is bolted to every company truck -- his hammer vibrates on a spring as the truck moves).

Little Man seen from the freeway.

The Little Man statue south of San Francisco, near the airport, is 17.5 feet tall. It's atop the roof of the Western Exterminator office.

But wait! The Little Man is as prolific as a cockroach brood, with statues at the corporate HQ in Irvine and in Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Santa Ana. He can also be found in Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas, NV.

Californians seem to respond especially well to the image of a large man about to swing a mallet at a smaller character: a similar moment is captured in Pea Soup Andersen's Happea and Pee-Wee signs.

[Thanks to Phil Pasquini for the digital drive-by shooting.]

Little Man with the Hammer

Western Exterminator Company

Western Exterminator Company, Hwy 101 just south of airport at Broadway exit, south side of Hwy 101.
2018: Statue removed.

More Quirky Attractions in California

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in California.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Map and Plan Your Own Roadside Adventure ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

California Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Punk Rock Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada (Dec 4-10, 2023)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings